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Keywords:

  • biological collections;
  • flowering time;
  • global change;
  • herbarium specimens;
  • life history;
  • life span;
  • Orchidaceae;
  • phenological shift;
  • phylogenetic control;
  • plant–climate interactions;
  • pollinator

Summary

  1. Herbarium collections contain long-term data for a wide range of taxa and provide unique opportunities to evaluate the importance of life-history components in driving species-specific responses to climate change. In this paper, we analyse the relationships between change in flowering dates and life-history traits within a phylogenetic framework. The study is based on an extensive data set of herbarium specimens of orchids collected in Hungary between 1837 and 2009, supplemented by recent field observations (1980–2011).
  2. Of the 39 taxa investigated, 31 (79%) showed apparent advancement in mean flowering time. Among these, advancement was statistically significant in nine taxa. The rest (eight taxa) showed non-significant delays in flowering. Averaging across all taxa, flowering time advanced by 3 days (3.8% of flowering period) during the last 50 years compared with the period before 1960. In taxa showing significant advancement, flowering times advanced by 7.7 days (8.6% of the flowering period). The most extreme advancement was 13.9 days.
  3. Multivariate models were used to evaluate ways in which life history may affect phenological responses to climate change. Pollination mode (i.e. deceptive vs. rewarding vs. autogamous), life span (i.e. short-lived vs. long-lived), biogeographical distribution type (i.e. Mediterranean vs. non-Mediterranean) and flowering time (i.e. mean date of blooming) emerged as important factors that influence changes in flowering through time. Phylogenetic relatedness did not predict phenological response. The strongest response was observed in orchids that flower relatively early in spring, exhibit an autogamous or deceptive pollination mechanism, have a long life span and possess a Mediterranean centre of distribution.
  4. Synthesis. Our investigation demonstrates that the majority of Hungarian orchids have shifted their yearly mean flowering to earlier dates during the past 50 years. Certain life-history traits, but not phylogenetic relatedness, were found to be important in predicting climatic responsiveness in European terrestrial orchids.