Monday, August 17, 2015

Examining historical fruiting times with herbarium specimens

Posted by Luca Russo

"Going a-berrying implies more things than eating the berries"
-Thoreau, from Huckleberries

Climate change may be affecting the fruiting times of plants in New England. If so, this would have consequences for the birds that eat fleshy fruit during their time of migration.

Ripe fruits on a specimen of Berberis thunbergii from the University of Connecticut herbarium

For the past year, Amanda Gallinat, Richard Primack and I have been evaluating herbarium specimens for about 60 common native and nonnative invasive species in New England for fruit ripening times. To understand how fruiting times have changed over time due to a warming climate, we have examined these museum specimens, which range in collection dates from the 1850's to present.

A full ripe specimen of Berberis thunbergii from the University of Connecticut herbarium online

In addition to the date the species was collected, each label on a specimen also provides information on the collector and location where the specimen was collected. We are especially interested to know if native species and invasive species are responding to climate change differently across the New England landscape.

A closer look at the label on the Berberis thunbergii specimen above 

No comments:

Post a Comment