Nutrient-Poor Mountain-Slope Grasses in a Warming World
Frei, E.R., Ghazoul, J., Matter, P., Heggli, M. and Pluess, A.R. 2014. Plant population differentiation and climate change: responses of grassland species along an elevational gradient. Global Change Biology 20: 441-455.
The five Swiss scientists report that they found "no evidence for local adaptation to elevation of origin and hardly any differences in the responses of low and high elevation populations." And they state that "the consistent advanced reproductive phenology observed in all three species shows that they have the potential to plastically respond to environmental variation."
As for the implications of their findings, quoting Frei et al., "our findings support the conclusion of a recent meta-analysis including 32 other plant species that local adaptation is less common than generally assumed (Leimu and Fischer, 2008)." And they go on to state that "since plant populations were not adapted to their respective elevations of origin, we conclude that, for our study species, the expected upward shift of optimal climatic conditions will not necessarily lead to a shift of population and species ranges to higher elevations in the context of climate change," since "plasticity will buffer the detrimental effects of climate change."
Leimu, R. and Fischer, M. 2008. A meta-analysis of local adaptation in plants. PLOS ONE 3: e4010.