Washington: A University of Cincinnati research has shown that global warming may be impacting the blooming cycle of plants.
According to the research, native plants in southwestern Ohio are flowering significantly earlier, a finding attributes, at least in part, to global warming.
University of Cincinnati biologist Denis Conover has done extensive plant studies in Hamilton County Parks and the Oxbow area. Here he studied a specimen at Burnet Woods.
Conover’s results reveal that for species that were observed flowering during two distinct multi-year surveys, a significant number of wild plants (39 percent) bloomed earlier from 2005 to 2008 than when he recorded the same species’ blooming times from 1992 to 1996. Forty-five percent of the plants bloomed at the same time, and 16 percent bloomed later.
“I was doing a plant survey to see how the wetlands had changed over the years, and I noticed a lot of the plants were blooming earlier than they had in the previous survey,” said Conover.
The biologist pointed out that the mean annual temperature during the survey periods increased nearly 2 degrees from 53.38 degrees (11.88 C) to 55.27 degrees (12.93 C) in roughly a decade’s time.
“This is a big change for such a short time period.” said Conover.
“There is a lot of data coming from all over the world indicating that biological communities are being impacted by warmer temperatures,” added Conover.
Conover worked closely with UC’s Steve Pelikan, a math professor, who crunched all the data from the surveys. Pelikan said he found both the number of earlier-flowering plants and the temperature change from one survey to the next to be statistically significant.
Conover’s wild-plant research follows a similar pattern of findings from a recent 30-year garden-plant study in southwestern Ohio (McEwan, et al.).
The research has been published in the December issue of Ecological Restoration.