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Landoni, Beatrice [1], Perez-Barrales, Rocio [2], Armbruster, W S [3].

Phenological response to water retention applied before and during flowering and its fitness consequences in populations of Linum bienne Mill. from different climatic regions.

Annual life-histories or rapid life-cycles are common for plant species occurring in disturbed environments, for example characterised by seasonal drought. Linum bienne is an herbaceous species found across the Mediterranean basin, where summer drought is common, and the Atlantic coasts of Europe, where precipitation is more evenly distributed throughout the year. Linum bienne is described as annual, winter-annual, or biannual, but it is unclear how the species’ life-history varies across its geographic range. In this study, using populations from the Mediterraenan and Atlantic region, we experimentally imposed drought stress to plants at two different phenological time (before and during flowering) to ask: 1) if the variation in life-history present within L. bienne corresponds with regional differences in water availability depending on precipitation regimes; 2) if plants from the two regions differ in the stress response by adjusting different components of their reproductive phenology via plasticity depending on the timing of stress; 3) whether natural variation in phenological components or their plastic response to stress is adaptive. We focus on reproductive phenological components (flowering and fruiting start, peak, duration) and fitness (fruit production and survival) which we monitored for over a year. The expectation is that Mediterranean populations are adapted to dry summers by following an escape strategy (faster life-cycle and/or response to stress by earlier reproduction), while Atlantic populations take longer to reproduce and either succumb to stress before completing their cycle or manage to avoid stress by delaying development. This in turn would result in higher reproductive output but lower survival in the first year of growth for Mediterranean populations compared to Atlantic populations, while survival should drop under water retention for Atlantic populations. We also explore the effect of water retention on survival in the second year of growth in relation to its effect on fruit production. Our results are interpreted in the context of the natural variation in life history exhibited by L. bienne in relation to drought, a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly relevant as a consequence of climate change, especially in the Mediterranean region.

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1 - University of Portsmouth, School of Biological Sciences, King Henry Building, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY, UK
2 - University of Granada, Botany Department, Campus Universitario de Cartuja, Granada, 18071, ES
3 - University of Portsmouth, School of Biological Sciences, King Henry Building, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO12DY, UK

flowering phenology
fruiting phenology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ECO5, Ecology: Stress
Location: /
Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
Time: 1:45 PM(EDT)
Number: ECO5006
Abstract ID:401
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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