Response to experimental warming in a population of Papaver radicatum in Greenland




In an attempt to simulate the effect of a global climatic change, temperature manipulations were carried out in a natural population of Papaver radicatum from a low arctic area on Disko Island, West Greenland. The manipulations were carried out by means of ITEX corners, which are angular plexiglass screens placed around individual plants. The corners were placed with openings towards four directions and different microclimatic conditions were obtained. The corners increase the summer temperature to different degrees in the four directions. In addition they are windscreens and eventually accumulate snow, dependent on the wind directions.

Dataloggers in a set of corners measured temperatures at the end of one growing season and at the beginning of the next. Spring was delayed in all corners due to increased snow cover duration, especially in those facing East and North. Nevertheless, temperatures were increased in the corners during the season, and highest temperature sums were obtained in those facing South and West. No temperature increase was found in the North-facing corners.

No effect was seen on the plants the first year after application of the ITEX corners. In the second year an increased biomass was observed in corners facing West and South in accordance with the higher temperatures experienced in these directions. In the third biomass year plants in corners facing West decreased and those facing North slightly increased compared to previous years. After 4 years plants in corners facing West, South and East had attained significantly higher biomass than the control plants and the plants in corners facing North.

An earlier onset of flowering was seen in the corners compared to control, and South-facing corners had more flowers. An early onset of the growth period is an advantage to flowering, more so than increased temperatures during the season. Flowering was prolonged in the corners compared to controls, but there was a higher risk of frost damage to the flowers in the corners.