Global climate changes alter the plant seasons in a significant way,disturbing the complementarity found naturally amongst the different plant species in competing for limited resources.
Scientists applied each of the four experimental treatments–elevated carbon dioxide, warming, increased precipitation and nitrogen deposition–to intact grassland plots both singly and in all possible combinations. They found that warming accelerated springtime flowering of all species. But they were surprised to find differing responses to elevated carbon dioxide and nitrogen deposition: Wildflowers responded to these changes by flowering earlier, while the grasses flowered later. This caused the two groups to overlap in their seasonality, where under current conditions they flower at separate times.
Consequences could be significant. “If plant species overlap more in the future because their timing is altered by global changes, it could lead to decreases in local plant diversity and negatively impact animals that depend on those plants.”