The future climate change represents the biggest challenge for plant and animal species. The scenarios forecasted by the IPCC predict a global increase in temperatures and regional changes in rainfall during this century. Therefore, studying the relationship between climate and several traits of species is crucial in our understanding of the effects that future changes may have on plants. Species growing along a wide environmental gradient are a suitable study model to verify the relationship between intraspecific variability and both current and future climate. The aim of my PhD project is to analyse the relationship between environmental variability and variation in morphological traits, germination capacity and genetic structure of Lilium pomponium, using a multidisciplinary approach. The results of this study may enhance our understanding about the possible responses of this threatened species to environmental changes. Lilium pomponium is an endemism of the Ligurian and Maritime Alps spanning along a wide altitudinal gradient (100 and 2000 m a.s.l.), ranging from a Mediterranean to a subalpine climate. Our results show that the populations exposed to different environmental pressures have variations in floral characteristics, these variations likely play an important role in reducing among-populations variability in reproductive output. Germination tests show that the increase in temperature may negatively affect seeds germination capacity. Nevertheless, projections of thermal requirement for seed germination under future climatic conditions suggest that populations will probably respond to future temperature increase shifting their germination phenology. Moreover, in the future the species may find suitable ecological conditions for seed germination in new areas at higher altitudes. Finally, genetic analysis suggests that there is no clear pattern of diversity and differentiation between populations, which may be related to the topographic complexity of the areas and to the biogeographical history of the species. Overall, the results obtained suggest that high among-populations variability found in L. pomponium may be a bet-hedging strategy to cope with unpredictable environmental conditions occurring in Mediterranean climate and that it might also represent a successful strategy to face the future environmental change.
|Titolo della tesi:||Adaptations of plant species to environmental changes|
|Data di discussione:||3-apr-2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Tesi di dottorato|