Two decades of climate change alters seed longevity in an alpine herb (Alp. Res.)

Alpine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change since they are experiencing swift temperature increases and rainfall reduction. These changes have been shown to affect different aspects of plant life history, such as phenology and germination. In this exciting research, White and colleagues show us that climate change also affects seed longevity –how long a seed can remain viable after maturation. The authors assessed ten seed bank accessions of Viscaria alpina collected from a single population from the northern Apennines (Italy) between 2001 and 2019 and looked for potential climate variables that could explain differences in seed longevity. Interestingly, they found that precipitation during the growth season was highly correlated with seed longevity, with plants that experienced drier seasons producing longer-lived seeds. This response is considered an important strategy for alpine plants to cope with harsher dry seasons. Therefore, this research provides fascinating insights into an additional effect of climate change on plant biology. Additionally, it highlights the importance and utility of ex-situ seed banks for such studies. (Summary by Carlos A. Ordóñez-Parra @caordonezparra) Alp. Bot. 10.1007/s00035-022-00289-8