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Friday, July 20,2012

Colorado Wildflower Copes With Climate Change

Now is the time Colorado's famed wildflowers are in full bloom. Enjoy it while you can. This annual riot of color is not immune to climate change.

In recent decades, winter snow has been melting earlier. That shift has not been lost on Drummond's rockcress (Boechera stricta), a mustard plant native to the Rockies (above). The results of a 38-year field study reveal that Drummond's rockcress flowered 13 days earlier in 2011 than in 1973.

The ecologists who published these results in a recent issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London—Biological Series found that this change is not a simple matter of individual plants flowering earlier in the year. It turns out that the population of wildflowers has undergone gradual genetic changes that have also helped it adapt.


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