Temperature and its effects on some maritime plants in Britain
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The physiological ecology of five coastal species has been examined with respect to temperature and its effect on survival and distribution. The aims of the study have been to establish whether any direct correlation exists between distribution and the responses of the plants to temperature at different stages in the life cycle. The species Tinder consideration were the northern Ligusticum scoticum and Mertensia maritima and the southern Crithmum maritimum, Limonium binervosum and Glaucium flavum. Highest germination percentages for each species were found at temperatures close to those associated with the season favourable for germination in the natural habitat. Northern species had higher temperature requirements than the southern, corresponding to spring/ summer and autumn or spring germination respectively. Root respiration, measured as oxygen uptake, was found to be twice as great in the northern Ligusticum and Mertensia as in the southern Crithmum and Limonium over a range of experimental temperatures. This varied to some extent with time and temperature of pretreatment. The single experiment on the southern Glauci.um showed rates similar to those of the northern species. Arrhenius plots' of respiration data for the northern species showed a break in gradient at the upper end of the experimental temperature range which correlated well with apparently limiting July mean temperatures from the distribution maps. The southern Crithmum showed a break at lower temperature range close to the limiting January mean temperature. The response of Limonium to experimental temperature depended on the pretreatment; upper range breaks were shown after low pretreatment temperatures, and lower range breaks after higher pretreatment temperatures. The single experiment on Glaucium gave a straight line Arrhenius plot. Carbohydrate analyses of the same pretreated plants yielded additional information relevant to the survival and thus to the distribution in relation to temperature. The southern Crithmum had the highest starch content at all temperatures while the northern Ligusticum and Mertensia had less. Ratios of soluble sugar to starch were greatest in the northern species, possibly reflecting displacement of the equilibrium from starch to soluble sugar at lower temperatures. Overall a connection has been demonstrated between the direct effects of temperature on the plants and the limitation of distribution by temperature. This is clearest for the two northern species, Ligusticum scoticum and Mertensia maritima, less definite for the southern Crithmum maritimiim, and only suggested for Limonium binervosum with its apparently less simple temperature responses. Glaucium flavum appears anomalous and requires further study.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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