Botanic gardens key players in climate change research
A new review paper has reaffirmed what we have known for some time - that botanical gardens have a unique set of resources that allows them to host important climate change research projects not easily undertaken elsewhere. These resources include controlled growing conditions, living collections with broad taxonomic representation, meticulous record-keeping, networks spanning wide geographic areas, and knowledgeable staff. Indeed botanic gardens have already contributed significantly to our understanding of biological responses to climate change, particularly the effects of temperature on the timing of flowering and leaf-out.
They have also made significant contributions to the understanding of the relationships among climate, physiology and anatomy.
Gardens are finding new uses for traditional research tools such as herbarium specimens and historical photographs, which are increasingly being used to obtain information on past plant behaviour.
Additional work on invasive species and comparative studies of responses to climatic variation are providing insights on important ecological, evolutionary and management questions. With their large collections of plant species from throughout the world and excellent herbaria, botanic gardens are well positioned to expand their current positions to provide leadership in climate change research and education.