Global warming is already affecting plant phenology, growth and reproduction. A wide range of evidence indicates warming effects on reproductive and vegetative traits, as well as phenology, but seldom do studies assess these traits in concert and across the whole of a plant's life cycle, particularly in wild species. Further, while there is evidence that these effects vary between species little is known about the extent of within-species variation for plant persistence under future warming scenarios. We assessed trait variation in response to warming in Oreomyrrhis eriopoda, an Australian native montane herb, in which within-species variation in germination strategy and growth characteristics has been demonstrated. We quantified associations between developmental trajectories and population-level variation in germination timing and examined whether the next-generation traits are altered by maternal growth conditions. Warming effects were expressed in different traits during different developmental stages. The effect of warming varied as a function of germination strategy, but germination strategy itself was conserved across generations. Thus, we conclude that understand the response of wild species to warming takes a whole-of-life perspective and attention to ecologically significant patterns of within species variation.
Quantifying the magnitude of phenotypic plasticity to compare among species, populations, cultivars, or genotypes is important for revealing the ecological and evolutionary significance of plastic responses to various abiotic and biotic factors. Commonly used plasticity estimators have occasionally been found to generate different species’ plasticity rankings. However, we do not know how frequent this incongruence is or the factors that influence the occurrence thereof; nor do we know which plasticity estimator is more reliable. We first addressed these problems using a theoretical framework, revealing inherent conflicts between the reaction norm slope and plasticity indices, and the conditions affecting these conflicts. We then empirically tested the effects of the estimators on interspecific plasticity differences by reanalyzing 1248 sets of relevant data, confirming the predictions derived from our theoretical framework. Finally, we show through theoretical analyses that the reaction norm slope is more reliable than plasticity indices for interspecific comparisons.