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Global change and plants: from leaves to biomes


Mgr. Alexander Ač, Ph.D.

(Global Change Research Institute, AS CR, v.v.i., Bělidla 4a, 60300, Brno, Czech Republic)


Average surface air global temperature increased by over 1°C during the last hundred years. At the same time, atmospheric CO2 concentration increased to 410 p.p.m. with the rate of increase two orders of magnitude faster than during the last interglacial period, and reaching the levels not seen in more than 3 million years. Rapidly shifting hydro-climatic patterns, together with shifts in climatic zones, are now beginning to emerge from background noise of natural variability, leaving clear impacts on plants and their functional state, as well as whole plant ecosystems and even biomes.


Vast majority of natural global changes in the Earth’s history, if not all of them, were occurring at much slower rate than current, and especially predicted one. Thus, in the past plants and ecosystems had plenty of time to evolve and adapt to associated environmental changes. Recent evidence suggests that as a result of fast environmental change, local plant extinctions are already occurring and whole species extinction risk is predicted to increase into the future. However, specific mechanisms, drivers, and combinations of environmental variables driving plants and ecosystem success or decline are often unclear and uncertain. It is suggested that plant adaptive capacity will be the key factor shaping the structure, stability, and productivity of ecosystems.


In this work, a short overview of current understanding of plant-climate interactions, ranging from leaf to ecosystem level, with respect to survival strategies (invasive vs. conservative), nutrients availability, interactions with insect, and potential consequences for global carbon cycle, will be outlined. Knowledge gaps, as well as effective steps towards minimizing future damage will be discussed.


Invitation to the talk HERE.

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