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Warmer weather = smaller leaves, for Dodonaea viscosa

July 8, 2012

From New Scientist…

“If your plan for escaping climate change is to hide in the shade of a tree, you might be out of luck. It turns out the leaves of some plants are shrinking in response to the warmer weather.

But bad news for shade-lovers may be good news for plant conservation. The changes could indicate that plants are evolving rapidly to changing conditions, suggesting they have a better chance at survival.

“Often we consider that climate change is something that is going to happen in the future,” says Andrew Lowe, a plant conservation biologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia and a key investigator on the study. “But we’ve already seen substantial changes in the Earth’s climate and so we should expect that there have been changes to the Earth’s plants.”

While earlier studies have observed climate-change-induced alterations in plant’s flowering time and animal migration patterns, this is the first evidence of changes to plant shape, Lowe says.

Analysing about 500 historic and new samples of a type of Dodonaea viscosa – an Australian shrub in the Lychee family – Lowe and colleagues found average leaf width has shrunk by 2 millimetres, or 40 per cent, over the past 127 years….”

Read full article at New Scientist

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 9, 2012 10:08:49 am

    We have lots of Dodonaea viscosa in the bushland around Serendipity Farm. I haven’t been around for 127 years so I can’t say that I have noticed the changes in leaf size, but it doesn’t seem to want to stop growing any day soon and is breeding exponentially in the area. Its great to see good work and research being done by Australian scientists.

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