Shock Discovery: Some Plants can Adapt to Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Scientists at the University of Sydney have made the remarkable discovery that when climatic conditions change, plants don’t all drop dead – some “rule breaking” plants adapt and thrive in the changed conditions.

‘Rule breaking’ plants may be climate change survivors

11 February 2020

Can invasive plants teach us about climate adaptation? Plants that break some of the ‘rules’ of ecology by adapting in unconventional ways may have a higher chance of surviving climate change, according to new research.

Plants that break some ecological rules by adapting to new environments in unconventional ways could have a higher chance of surviving the impacts of climate change, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Sydney, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Queensland.

Professor Glenda Wardle, from the University of Sydney’s Desert Ecology Research Group, is one of the founding members of the international PlantPopNet team that coordinated the global collaborative research.

“The study is exciting as it is the first publication from the PlantPopNet team,” she said. “We were able to attract researchers from around the world to study in their own backyard, at a low cost. It’s a humble plant but it has the right mix of interesting biology to be a model for how plants might respond to altered environments.”

Dr Annabel Smith, from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food SciencesProfessor Yvonne Buckley, from both UQ’s School of Biological Sciences and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and PlantPopNet studied the humble plantain (Plantago lanceolata) in an attempt to see how it became one of the world’s most successfully distributed plant species.

“We hoped to find out how plants adapt to hotter, drier or more variable climates and whether there were factors that made them more likely to adapt or go extinct,” Dr Smith said. “The plantain, a small plant native to Europe, has spread wildly across the globe – we needed to know why it’s been so incredibly successful.”

Read more: https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/02/11/rule-breaking-plants-may-be-climate-change-survivors.html

The Plantain isn’t the only plant which has spread. When British colonists arrived in Australia, plenty of the farm crops they brought from temperate Britain did just fine in much warmer Australia. For example, strawberries are a prized delicacy in Britain, but with a little shade and water during dry spells, they grow just as well in tropical Queensland.

Given the vast range of climatic conditions under which pretty much every staple food crop and food animal survives, suggestions that a warmer climate would be any kind of threat to agriculture or even the natural environment are absurd.

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Eric Stevens
February 11, 2020 6:10 pm

“Rule breaking plants”. Who set the rules?

It sounds like another hypothesis down the drain

Scissor
Reply to  Eric Stevens
February 11, 2020 6:21 pm

Saw Palmetto Alinsky, perhaps.

Reply to  Eric Stevens
February 11, 2020 8:21 pm

In the 1990’s we had a mining project in the altiplano (“Puna”), a desert plain at about 14,000 ft elevation in the Andes.

It was too dry for cactus, and the only plant I saw was a short sharp grass that grew in sporadic random-oriented tufts on ~level ground. The same plant on hillsides would grow in a crescent-shape, with the “open cup” of the crescent pointed uphill – apparently to catch the sparse rain and melt water as it flowed down the hill.

Rocketscientist
Reply to  Eric Stevens
February 12, 2020 8:40 am

Obviously the plants are uneducated, illiterate and simply not “woke” enough to die off as predicted by those far more knowledgeable.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Eric Stevens
February 25, 2020 2:37 am

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RoHa
February 11, 2020 6:11 pm

Plants can adapt and survive when conditions change slightly?

Ridiculous!

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  RoHa
February 11, 2020 8:47 pm

That Darwin guy is probably spinning in his grave.

Richard
Reply to  RoHa
February 11, 2020 9:40 pm

So animals and humans are too rigid and inflexible to adapt to change, and will all go extinct? The ebb and flow of evolutionary adaptability has run out of gas? We will have to cede the world to plants and cockroaches? All for a measly 6 degrees?

Mike
February 11, 2020 6:15 pm

Oh Yawn!
I can grow plants which come from frozen winter climates here in warm temperate Australia and they produce viable seed in all that extra heat.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Mike
February 11, 2020 9:19 pm

I’m growing two olive trees in Gympie, which are seeds from the tree that the first settlers brought to Botany Bay (NSW) from England.

So; a Mediterranean plant, brought to Australia NSW, from English growers, and now growing in Semi-Tropical QLD.

And it’s perfectly happy in all climates. No, tell it isn’t so.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
February 12, 2020 3:39 am

Olives are a weed in Adelaide and other parts of SA

KcTaz
Reply to  Mike
February 11, 2020 9:29 pm

Congratulations, Mike. All I know about plants is how to kill them which I excel at doing. 🙂
I do have one cactus that I’ve now had for 14 months and it seems to still be alive. I water it with a shot glass full every 2 weeks or so. It seems to thrive on neglect so, my keeping it alive may not mean that I’ve gotten any better at this plant keeper thing.

PMHinSC
Reply to  KcTaz
February 12, 2020 12:56 am

Think of yourself as a teacher. You are teaching plants how to adapt to your abuse. I bet some of those plants you thought you had killed, will end up growing on your grave. And in their own way thanking you for thr carbon dioxide you contributed to their survival. Give yourself a pat on the back.

HD Hoese
February 11, 2020 6:24 pm

“Plants that break some ecological rules by adapting to new environments in unconventional ways…” Plants are above my pay grade, but I had lots of botany, even forestry and horticulture. They must have changed the rules. Rediscovery is a wonderful thing, wonder if they know about the wheel.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  HD Hoese
February 11, 2020 9:20 pm

Too advanced for them. They’re still confused by fire.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  HD Hoese
February 12, 2020 12:53 am

The wheel? What’s that?

Joel O'Bryan
February 11, 2020 6:24 pm

Temperate Tasmanian seems like a hotspot for invasive plants adapting and take-over that environment.

joe
February 11, 2020 6:31 pm

Can plants adapt to climate change?

Please send money so I can do research.

JohnWho
Reply to  joe
February 11, 2020 7:56 pm

Can’t help but wonder if animals could do it too?

Please send money so I can do research.

Jimmy Haigh
February 11, 2020 6:40 pm

Obviously denier plants…

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
February 11, 2020 9:23 pm

How Dare They.

Green Elitist University PhD plants, are adapting to the climate somehow. This shouldn’t be possible. School dropouts know more about things like that and stuff. Off with their heads!

donb
February 11, 2020 6:42 pm

Years ago Genetic science was puzzled by large sections of genetic code (DNA) in many organisms that seemed to serve no purpose nor to function. In recent years it has been discovered some of this code is sensitive to certain environmental conditions, and that these conditions can turn that genetic code on or off. The process by which this occurs is methylation, whereby a methyl group (CH3) is either added to or subtracted from a controlling site. The whole process is called epigenetics.

Possible (even likely?) many plants contain DNA coding of past times when the environment was much dryer and these DNA sites were active, only to be turned off when climate became wetter. How many plants may contain such DNA in hibernation, which could be turned back on by sustained environment changes and give the plant renewed resistance to changing environmental conditions?

MarkW
Reply to  donb
February 11, 2020 7:26 pm

Apparently plants are smarter than many warmists.

JohnWho
Reply to  MarkW
February 11, 2020 7:58 pm

I’m thinking the science is settled on that one, but what the heck –

please send money so I can do research.

Rod Evans
Reply to  MarkW
February 12, 2020 12:04 am

You have been looking at living examples I imagine Mark, Prince Charles comes to mind when talking to plants is in the news. I blame his father, he says he wants to come back to life as a virus to decimate the living humans? It takes all sorts to make a world.

ray boorman
Reply to  MarkW
February 12, 2020 8:37 pm

That has been obvious for many years, Mark. In fact, an average tree is smarter than entire university faculties – well, of small universities with only a couple of hundred academics, anyway.

February 11, 2020 6:44 pm

“when climatic conditions change, plants don’t all drop dead – some “rule breaking” plants adapt and thrive”

So old man Darwin was right after all? That climate change does not force the end of the planet but in fact forces the kind of evolutionary change that created modern humans?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  chaamjamal
February 12, 2020 6:58 am

Evolution = decent with modification.

Bob in Castlemaine
February 11, 2020 7:01 pm

I suspect there are limits on the adaptions plants can make to changing climatic conditions, for instance certain species have been able to make it through recent glacial periods while others apparently could not. Maybe this had more to do with the extent of regional distribution being such that surviving individuals were able to repopulate the glacial zones?
I suspect less glacial ice coverage is why more of Australia’s ancient/older species have survived than is the case in Europe?

LdB
Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
February 12, 2020 12:42 am

The problem with your theory is Australia started very near the South pole and has extensive old glacial sites all over it. It is very difficult to mount a case that it had less or more than anywhere else without better data most of which has long since been eroded away.

What we do know is in the last glacial period 20,000 years ago it badly impacted on the Aboriginal population who have a history going back 50,000 years.

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  LdB
February 12, 2020 5:28 pm

You may be right LdB?
Yes Australia was part of Antarctica and near the south pole, but at the time the two separated, between 85 and 65 MYBP, the combined continental climate was not what it is today but tropical and it had been so for millions of years.  When the combined Antarctica/Gondwana/Pangaea continent experienced significant glaciation prior to that is likely to have been as long ago as 290 MYBP, hence many of the ancient plant species we now see in Australia could well have evolved since that time.
As to the extent of Australian ice coverage during the recent glacial period my understanding is that the extent was quite small i.e. on the higher parts of the Australian Alps and on limited parts of the Tasmanian Highlands

High Treason
February 11, 2020 7:21 pm

Plants are smarter than many people. Certainly smarter than Green supporters and their leaders in Parliament. Note, Greens and Labor think humans can not adapt to “climate change.”

There, there-paying billions to the promulgators of the myth will make it better.

H.R.
February 11, 2020 7:33 pm

Omigosh! Omigosh! Omigosh!

Whatever will we do now?!?

It’s all over. Life can adapt to a changing climate.

Woe is me… Woe is me…

goldminor
February 11, 2020 7:58 pm

I think the trick would be to find a plant which does not adapt. The hardest plant which I have dealt with is the Hawaiian papaya tree which popped up in my compost pile at the end of this last summer. There were 4 nice sized ones from 4 to 8 inches in height. I put them in grow bags to move them inside for the winter, and only the largest survived the move. The largest barely survived the move. All of the leaves on it withered and died, but I eventually learned how to manage the tree. The trick was that they only need minimal watering. Who would have thought that a tree from Hawaii would be so susceptible to what would be normal watering rates for most other plants.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  goldminor
February 12, 2020 5:00 am

Well I’m guessing they grow on a part of the island that is in the lee of prevailing winds and subject to the Foehn affect? I went walking in Tenerife along a ridge in the North East of the Island. The clouds would role up the northern slope and rapidly evaporate as they rolled over me and down the southern slope. This must have been the prevailing conditions because on the northern slope there was thick green vegetation while on the downward southern slope the green vegetation gave way to arid vegetation such as cactus in a matter of metres.

Steve Z
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
February 12, 2020 1:19 pm

I see similar adaptations to “micro-climates” here in Utah. Along the Wasatch mountains, most of the south-facing slopes only have grass and an occasional scrub-oak growing, while the north-facing slopes have tall conifer forests growing almost to the summits.

This area has relatively wet weather in winter and spring, but is very dry in summer and autumn. Along the south-facing slopes, most of the snow is melted by early April, and seedlings that might sprout during a wet spring will be parched in summer. Along the north-facing slopes, patches of snow can remain until June, and the melting snow can provide much-needed water to the conifers during the summer, whose shade also tends to slow down the summer melting and evaporation.

When these mountains are viewed from the valley to the west, there is a sharp contrast between the dark green conifers on the left (north) and the yellow grassland on the right (south).

Tom Abbott
Reply to  goldminor
February 12, 2020 7:40 am

“The hardest plant which I have dealt with is the Hawaiian papaya tree which popped up in my compost pile at the end of this last summer. There were 4 nice sized ones from 4 to 8 inches in height. I put them in grow bags to move them inside for the winter, and only the largest survived the move. The largest barely survived the move. All of the leaves on it withered and died, but I eventually learned how to manage the tree. The trick was that they only need minimal watering.”

I love papaya’s! 🙂 I had a papaya tree in the front yard of my house on Oahu’s North Shore many moons ago. Had a lemon tree, too.

Overwatering plants, especially indoor plants, is probably the biggest mistake gardeners make. Some plants can handle being overwatered, and overwatering rots other plant’s roots. It just depends on the plant.

goldminor
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 12, 2020 10:41 am

The grow bags make it hard to overwater generally due to the ability of the bag to breathe. I had to read up on the tree to find out that they have very low water requirements. Then again, here I am at 40+ N latitude and 1800′ elevation trying to grow a tropical tree. This one survivor made it because the trunk of the tree had gained enough size to survive the leaves dying off. It sits under fluorescent grow lights, and the shift from natural to indoors may have played a part in shocking the tree. Now I only add a little water once a week. In around 2 months I should be able to move it outside.

Here is one of my more successful growing efforts. The box contains a bit over 50 pounds of Rangpur limes, and there are at least two more boxes to be picked from this tree. … https://goldminor.wordpress.com/2020/02/12/harvest-time/

Tom Abbott
Reply to  goldminor
February 12, 2020 4:53 pm

You have all kinds of stuff going! It appears you like a challenge, and are pretty good at overcoming that challenge. 🙂

I keep hearing the sounds of Springtime outside (birds). Maybe Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast of an early spring this year is correct.

goldminor
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 12, 2020 8:09 pm

The fruit from that tree has some special properties. I have learned to mix it with blackberries, or oranges, or blueberries, and 10% lime mix. The result is a great citrus flavored jam which is highly resistant to any mold/bacteria. I had a loosely sealed jar of the heavy lime mix which lasted for a bit over 2 years in the refrigerator until I finished it. I have a quart jar of blackberry jam made last July which is also still in perfect shape. It is almost finished meaning that it has been exposed to the air multiple times, and has had many contacts with metal utensils. One would expect to see mold develop towards the top of the jar, never happens.

If you like citrus flavored products when this is mixed with oranges it creates a superior flavored orange jam without the need to use pectin for jelling purposes. That is my favorite.

Alloytoo
February 11, 2020 8:12 pm

Damn you evolution!

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Alloytoo
February 11, 2020 9:26 pm

Relax; evolution isn’t real. This is Fake News.
/snark

LdB
Reply to  Alloytoo
February 12, 2020 12:43 am

That is actually what the title of the article should be ….. “Scientist Discovers Evolution”

Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  LdB
February 12, 2020 4:41 pm

Again…

February 11, 2020 8:16 pm

Duh. Otherwise life would have died off.

Andre Lauzon
February 11, 2020 8:19 pm

WOW>>>>>> and even humans that were born in the South can now live in the Artic and vice versa!! DUH

RockyRoad
February 11, 2020 8:38 pm

Is this the Onion?

JEHILL
February 11, 2020 8:53 pm

Have these so-called scientists ( morons ) not heard of bio-adaptability? Is this not the way of evolution? I remember reading a few articles 20 – 25 years ago stating about how if we were to pick wild edible plants and place them in a planter on our decks or patios that within two harvesting cycles we would see genetic differences. It makes perfect sense to me.

If life on this planet was so monolithic in its inability to survive why do we find life in nearly everything single environment? Or Life on this planet would have to be much younger than data current suggests.

KcTaz
February 11, 2020 9:16 pm

I wonder why they had to do research? Couldn’t they just have looked at all the plants Columbus, the Spanish and the Brits etc. exchanged between the New and Old World and vice versa that did just fine in much different climates?
Origin of Species of Corn, Potatoes, and Tomatoes – and Some Other Interesting History
https://cashmannursery.com/gardening-tips/2012/origin-of-species-of-corn-potatoes-and-tomatoes-and-some-other-interesting-history/

A BRIEF HISTORY OF VEGETABLES
http://www.localhistories.org/vegetables.html

Can I get grant money for studying this?

KcTaz
February 11, 2020 9:20 pm

This is from a comment on another article in WUWT. It makes sense and could explain how plants adapt to different environments.
Robertvd
October 29, 2019 at 10:26 am
Earth albedo is getting bigger as it gets greener. Plants reflect green light.
“It might seem inefficient that plants don’t take advantage of the one part of the spectrum that the sun emits most of its energy in. This is actually a form of protection. Chlorophyll-a and other pigments are easily destroyed by too much energy, and when the pigments break down and stop absorbing light entering the plant, that energy can cause damage to other plant tissues as well, including the plants’ DNA. Think of it as a sort of plant sunburn. Plants have elaborate mechanisms to repair DNA that has been damaged by too much sun energy, but these repair mechanisms are costly, and require extra nutrients. A plant that is stressed by too little nutrients or too little water can actually die from excess sun exposure.
Plants have adapted to balance their need for the suns energy with their need to protect themselves from sun damage by using regions of the spectrum that are not as abundant. In general, light absorbed in the blue region is used for plant growth and light absorbed in the red and far red regions are used as cues for flowering or orienting (that is, bending leaves and stems toward or away from light, growing tall to escape shading in a forest, etc).”
http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=500
Reply

Chris Hanley
February 11, 2020 9:28 pm

“The plantain, a small plant native to Europe, has spread wildly across the globe – we needed to know why it’s been so incredibly successful …”.
Glenda, Annabel and Yvonne will need to travel to many exotic destinations also at Australian taxpayers’ expense.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Chris Hanley
February 12, 2020 3:20 am

the 3 could have looked at many other plants that are garden escapees in Aus as well
Gazanias are doing very well on roadsides and now SA govt wants them all sprayed
they thrive on poorer soils which makes the suburban versions high water n fertiliser look daft,
thyre actually a bonus to roadsides as they help hold roadside soils prevent water runoff and also, forming clumps, can fight the nastier grasses theyre giving invasive veldt grass along my roadside a decent battle;-)
and I sure wont be spraying them.
theres the odd plantain too but they dont like the cold or wet so much
theyre doing very well in SA midnth and even used to be in most Adelaide roadside verges, and schoolyards

Monsantos minions found a sweetcorn growing in SA drylands and obtained seed? hmm?
then took it back and fiddled , RR alterered and claimed PVR over it, to be able to sell it into hot dry areas like Africa
no payment or mention of the source to the original grower from what I read some yrs ago.
might be an urban myth but I doubt it.

February 11, 2020 9:29 pm

The study did not include the mortality rate of plants in my home.

LdB
Reply to  Bob Hoye
February 12, 2020 12:45 am

Yeah but you smoking them makes a very bad mortality rate 🙂

mikebartnz
February 11, 2020 9:39 pm

I have found hawhound/hoarhound that grows in the Wairarapa, New Zealand also growing in the Grand Canyon. You can’t get much more diverse than that.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  mikebartnz
February 12, 2020 3:28 am

horehound makes a pretty good beer btw;-) local chaps sledged me about making some..
and then they tried it
lets say I got one bottle and they cleaned up the other 14 litres very quickly.
used to be a brewer made it in Burra? in SA decades ago along with dandelion and burdock as well

for the interested
its a couple of cups of the leaves washed n chopped
throw them in a preserving pan*around 16 litres?)
can be less really
boil let cool a bit stir in at least one cup of treacle for a dark brew golden syrup for a lighter one
when tepid add dry yeast couple dessertspoons worth. stir n let sit a while till properly cool
guess you could use brewers yeast if you have it.
I bottled it into 2litre recycled PET bottles and just kept easing the caps every day if they looked a bit tight/bloated. after about a week thats seemed to settle so I left em to age for 3 weeks
pretty tasty n potent brew;-)

David Chappell
February 11, 2020 9:42 pm

I sometimes despair at the intelligence of so-called specialists. How do they think life forms colonised the earth in the first place?

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  David Chappell
February 11, 2020 9:59 pm

Don’t despair David the answer is simple:
https://youtu.be/wTP2RUD_cL0

Albert
February 11, 2020 10:19 pm

Bristlecone Pines. Some individual trees are 6,000 years old. The ones that live to that old age live in very inhospitable places (rock piles at high elevations). They do fine in good soil at lower elevations too but they grow faster and die younger.

A 6,000 year old tree has seen a lot of climate change.

GregK
Reply to  Albert
February 12, 2020 8:17 pm

And a few “climatologists”

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  GregK
February 13, 2020 8:22 am

Especially that one particular tree…

gringojay
February 11, 2020 10:52 pm

Plantago lanceolata (as an herb called “plantain”) in it’s natural habitat lives up to 5 years, whereas in Eastern Australia it lives 1 – 2 years. It’s 1st recorded mention of being in Australia was 1801.

The original post’s cited research group hopefully consulted (or included) the University NewSouthWales team of J.S.H.Wan & S.P.Bonser who (along with colleagues) have published some of their P. lanceolata findings. They have specifics about nuances that plants are revealing as they move into additional niches.

For example see free full text (2018) available on-line of: “Loss of plasticity in life-history strategy associated with secondary invasion into stressful environments in invasive narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.)”. The “plantain” plants’ primary (home, or center base) niche was on the outskirts of Sydney & then they looked at secondary niches of “plantain” just 50 Km away + another secondary “plantain” niche 150 Km distant.

richard
February 11, 2020 11:31 pm

What’s changed, Prairie grass, a drought resistant plant, grew across the US until Mr John Steele ploughed it up in the 19th century and as far as I know drought resistant plants still grow across Africa, one fifth of the world’s land mass.

During the dust bowl in the US during the 1930s Prairie grass started to make a come back. There is a message there.

Krishna Gans
February 11, 2020 11:36 pm

I ask myself, why, the hell, here in my garden in central Germany several chillis are able to grow up to one meter and produce nice and spicy fruits.

Rod Evans
February 12, 2020 12:14 am

Hey listen up students who have found plantain can adapt.
I have been studying a plant that seems to defy all climate change events, it has even been found in Antarctica, well mostly that long thin bit that has occasional freak warn moment, record tempt.
It has been found in deserts in the Himalayas and on every continent. It seems to have managed this world presence without human involvement.
It is called “Grass”

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Rod Evans
February 12, 2020 10:28 am

A simple thought experiment: It is the nature of the plant kingdom to never let a patch of earth anywhere lie fallow if nutrients and water are present and the temperature isnt too low. There are species everywhere that with water available will go to work on stingy nutrients locked up in solid granites, dolomite and other rocks.

Re: invasive species, if the invasive species finds itself on a patch of Australia with the nutrients it needs plus water, how does it know its in Australia?

FabioC.
February 12, 2020 12:29 am

Banana plants can survive in Parma, Italy – even through quite harsh winters; strawberries are grown in large amounts on the mountains of Indonesia and daring entrepreneurs even set up successful vineyards in Bali.

Life is stubborn and adaptable.

LdB
Reply to  FabioC.
February 12, 2020 12:53 am

There is a technical problem with that Banana and Strawberry are man made they are not natural. They are artificial hybrid cross breeds from plant species which were geographically to far apart for the cross to occur naturally.

No saying the idea is wrong just the selection of those two is not a good choice.

FabioC.
Reply to  LdB
February 12, 2020 1:14 am

Well, I am thinking of the examples I have seen in person.

In person, with some care during their first years, I also made two specimen of Pinus Domestica grow to a nice size north of their usual range, on the Emilian slopes of the Appennines.

Stephen Skinner
February 12, 2020 12:55 am

How about the Stromatolite? Not exactly a plant but life none the less. That started out when the atmosphere was 30% CO2 and no Oxygen and it’s still here.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
February 12, 2020 1:11 am

Ah yes, those stromatolites they just don’t know when to quit. We should send round a gurning Greta to admonish them for their persistence “How dare you”

Matthew Sykes
February 12, 2020 1:13 am

Went in an old ochre mine once. Hundreds of meters in, and around each of the lights fixed to the wall every 10 meters, was a little colony of plants and moss.

Life exploits every nook and cranny, every niche environment it can. Just as with the Chernobyl fungus living of extreme levels of radiation, life evolves, constantly, to maximise its viability.

richard
February 12, 2020 1:22 am

Who would have thought , weeds grow everywhere.

February 12, 2020 3:42 am

Just a small thought, but much of British colonial enterprise was devoted to spreading both UK species of food and ornamental plants around the globe; also shifting plants from dominion to dominion e.g. Indian fruit species, Australian trees, South African maize varieties to Kenya (to name one example) where on smallholder farms in the Rift Valley they still thrive alongside English apple, pears and plum trees, French beans, Irish potatoes and fat white European cabbages. And then there were the Victorian plant hunters whose endeavours led to the alien floral-arboreal colonisation of the parks and gardens across gentrified Europe. Come to think of it, I am a prehistorian and so I might proffer the observation that without the inordinately successful movement and adaptation of food crops and domesticated food animals out of the Middle East and across Europe from 10,000 years BCE we might not be here having this conversation. Also as Rod Evans points out, alongside and quite apart from the endless human tinkering and transporting and adapting of plant species, there is the ubiquitous grass in all its many manifestations – also an essential if unintended force for paleo-human development.

[Duplicate post deleted. Mod]

tty
Reply to  Tish Farrell
February 12, 2020 11:13 am

Note however that the spread of agriculture east from the core area in the Middle East stopped abruptly at the eastern edge of the Iranian highlands and paused for at least 2,000 years before penetrating the Indian peninsula. It actually reached northern China by way of Central Asia earlier.

It took that long to evolve varieties that would grow in monsoon climate with summer rain rather than mediterranean climate with winter rain.

And yes, the evolution and spread of grasses was of supreme importance, it may even have caused the change to “icehouse climates” during the latest 35 million years.

Right-Handed Shark
February 12, 2020 3:49 am

Whoever paid for this study needs jailing for misappropriation of funds.
Are plants adaptable?
Sea grass.
Related to/evolved from land grass.
How much more adaptable do plants need to be?

Andy Pattullo
February 12, 2020 7:00 am

Well the special education folks certainly deserve credit for getting this past the reviewers. Plants obviously don’t “break ecological rules” by adapting to change. Those are the ecological rules. And changing from what is prevalent to something new is inherently “unconventional”. They might as well publish a paper stating that water is wet and wind blows. It would get them tenure in many modern universities, and in the EU they might even be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Gary Pearse
February 12, 2020 8:52 am

“Plants that break some ecological rules by adapting to new environments..”

Sheesh. You have throw the ‘rules’ out entirely then. That’s the trouble with climate science they filter likely possibilities out when you have a ‘settled’ science. Don’t forget, we started out with an ecology of single celled progenitors -billions of ‘rules’ have therefore been scrapped already.

tty
February 12, 2020 11:03 am

Palaeoecological studies show that plants are really very resilient to climate change (at least with respect to warmer climates).

At the end of the ice-age when climate abruptly became warmer the cold-climate plants as a matter of fact first thrived. What eliminated them was rather that warm-climate plants ultimately immigrated, since these did even better in a warm climate.

Vegetation is often very much out of equilibrium with climate. For example it was long thought that the climate in northern Europe was rather cool at the beginning of this interglacial 10,000 years ago, since this was what the composition of the flora seemed to show. However it has since become clear that the tree-line was actually much higher that today, so the climate was actually very warm, much warmer than now. But the “warm” flora hadn’t had time to immigrate yet:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324991910_Further_Details_on_Holocene_Treeline_GlacierIce_Patch_and_Climate_History_in_Swedish_Lapland

John Robertson
February 12, 2020 11:19 am

Gah,forget “Climate Change” What about those “rule breaking plants” that survive Summer and Winter?
This must be a product of “The Science” TM IPCC UN Nitwits R Us.

Rudolf Huber
February 12, 2020 1:50 pm

That’s what life has always done. Adapted. The adaptable thrived, the rigid died out. We are the children of the adaptable life forms. Only now it seems we have lost the gene for life. The climate has changed an infinite amount of times since planet Earth developed something that could be called a climate. For the first time ever, a species thinks it must break the cosmic wheel and put us under a cheese dome. Going with nature never meant denying anyone a future. It makes the future happen.

Furiously curious
February 12, 2020 4:37 pm

Land plants have survived 15 degree drops and rises in temperatures, what makes us think Great Barrier Reef corals can’t survive a 2 degree rise, when the same species grow at twice the rate, in 2 degree warmer Asian waters?

Rick
February 12, 2020 4:40 pm

I have noticed that nothing grows in temperatures much below freezing. Certainly nothing we can eat. It is also noticeable that growth is abundant in hot areas as long as there is sufficient moisture.
The obvious take is that warmer is better. Even hotter.

Mike Dubrasich
February 12, 2020 6:57 pm

It is well-known that fir and pine trees exhibit phenotypic plasticity in response to variations in environmental conditions. Gene expression in needle tissue via RNA transcripts demonstrate that individual plant response to temperature, soil water availability and photoperiod are large compared to provenance (genetic heritage). That is, despite the environmental conditions in which the parent trees grew, offspring adapt to differing conditions through built-in plasticity of gene expression. Individual plants can also change their needle morphology in response to changing environmental factors during their lifetimes.

Of course, conifers arose more than 300 million years ago and have adapted or evolved in response to ALL the climate changes during that time — since they are still here in abundance.

AGW is Not Science
February 13, 2020 5:55 am

“Given the vast range of climatic conditions under which pretty much every staple food crop and food animal survives, suggestions that a warmer climate would be any kind of threat to agriculture or even the natural environment are absurd.”

Especially when most of the “warming” consists of nighttime LOW temperatures not getting quite as cold, rather than daytime highs getting hotter. “Global milding,” as it should more correctly be called, threatens NO plants (or wildlife) whatsoever.

Fredar
February 15, 2020 1:10 am

Nonsense. Everyone knows that Nature is weak and insignificant, and Mankind is the most powerful force on Earth.

Johann Wundersamer
February 25, 2020 1:56 am

Rule breaking’ plants may be climate change survivors

11 February 2020

Can invasive plants teach us about climate adaptation? Plants that break some of the ‘rules’ of ecology by adapting in unconventional ways may have a higher chance of surviving climate change, according to new research.

Plants that break some ecological rules by adapting to new environments in unconventional ways could have a higher chance of surviving the impacts of climate change, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Sydney, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Queensland.

Professor Glenda Wardle, from the University of Sydney’s Desert Ecology Research Group, is one of the founding members of the international PlantPopNet team that coordinated the global collaborative research.

“The study is exciting as it is the first publication from the PlantPopNet team,” she said.

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