Decreased rainfall, increased temperature and increased temporal variability are proposed to have great impacts on the future persistence of species in Eastern Mediterranean regions, already imposed upon by extreme conditions. However, predictions of high vulnerability neglect to include current adaptive strategies already expressed by plants in these communities, which could buffer further change.
To understand potential buffering mechanisms, we performed a 2-year greenhouse seed germination experiment, testing germination responses to different levels of aridity. Overall we tested 58 annual species collected from Israel, from two sites which vary in their rainfall quantity but more importantly, their variability and unpredictability.
This experiment was designed to explicitly test seed dormancy strategies - a common adaptive bet-hedging strategy which spreads the risk of extinction for plants in more arid variable climates. We want to identify if these seed dormancy strategies are able to provide resistance for species to climate change.
In addition, we are working in collaboration with Mark Rees (University of Sheffield, UK) and Leonor Álvarez-Cansino (University of Bayreuth, Germany) to further test seed dormancy, and other rainfall and grazing related plant strategies, within a fully explicit simulation model closely linked to vast quantities of long-term data we have collected as part of the GLOWA project.