Interannual seasonal variability in precipitation may strongly affect the life history and growth of desert annual plants. We compared the effects of dry and wet springs and dry and wet autumns on growth and F2 seed dormancy of plants from spring (SG)- and autumn (AG)-germinated seeds of the cold desert annual Erodium oxyrhinchum. Vegetative and reproductive growth and F2 seed dormancy and germination were monitored from September 2016 to November 2020 in the sandy Gurbantunggut Desert in NW China in Central Asia. Dry autumns decreased the density of AG plants, and dry springs decreased the density of SG plants and growth of SG and AG plants. In dry springs, SG plants were more sensitive to precipitation than AG plants, while in wet springs SG and AG plants had similar responses to precipitation. During growth in both dry and wet springs, most morphological characters of SG and AG plants initially increased rapidly in size/number and then plateaued or decreased, except for SG plants in dry springs. In dry springs, most morphological characters of AG plants were larger or more numerous than those of SG plants, and they were larger/more numerous for SG plants in wet than in dry springs. The percentage biomass allocated to reproduction in SG plants was slightly higher in a wet than in a dry spring. A much higher proportion of dormant seeds was produced by AG plants in a wet spring than in a dry spring. Projected changes in precipitation due to climate change in NW China are not likely to have much of an effect on the biology of this common desert annual plant.
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This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971428, U2003214); the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA2005020402); the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018477); the Research Center for Ecology and Environment of Central Asia, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y933041); and the High-level Talents Training Program of Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography.
The following are available online at https://www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/biology10080780/s1, Table S1: Pearson correlations among life history traits of spring germinating plants (SG) of Erodium oxyrhinchum in wet springs; Table S2: Pearson correlations among life history traits of autumn germinating plants (AG) of Erodium oxyrhinchum in wet springs; Table S3: Pearson correlations among life history traits of spring germinating plants (SG) of Erodium oxyrhinchum in dry springs; Table S4:Pearson correlations among life history traits of autumn germinating plants (AG) of Erodium oxyrhinchum in dry springs.
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Liu, Huiliang; Chen, Yanfeng; Zhang, Lingwei; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C.; Zhang, Lan; Liu, Yan; Zhang, Daoyuan; and Zhang, Yuanming, "Is the Life History Flexibility of Cold Desert Annuals Broad Enough to Cope with Predicted Climate Change? The Case of Erodium oxyrhinchum in Central Asia" (2021). Biology Faculty Publications. 216.