The Antarctic Peninsula is under pressure from non-native plants and this risk is expected to increase under climate warming. Establishment and subsequent range expansion of non-native plants depend in part on germination ability under Antarctic conditions, but quantifying these processes has yet to receive detailed study. Viability testing and plant growth responses under simulated Antarctic soil surface conditions over an annual cycle show that 16 non-native species, including grasses, herbs, rushes and a succulent, germinated and continued development under a warming scenario. Thermal germination requirement (degree day sum) was calculated for each species and field soil-temperature recordings indicate that this is satisfied as far south as 72° S. Here, we show that the establishment potential of non-native species, in number and geographical range, is considerably greater than currently suggested by species distribution modelling approaches, with important implications for risk assessments of non-native species along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful for the logistical support given by the British Antarctic Survey during the fieldwork. We would like to thank Richard van Logtestijn and Rob Broekman for their help during the laboratory experiment. We are grateful to Laura Gerrish (BAS Mapping and Geographic Information Centre) for her assistance in the preparation of Fig. 4. This work was funded by a grant from the Netherlands Polar Programme (NPP-NWO 866.16.006) and by Natural Environment Research Council core funding to the British Antarctic Survey “Biodiversity, Evolution, and Adaptation” team. Angélica Casanova-Katny appreciates the logistical support of the Instituto Antártico Chileno (INACH, project FR-04-18) and the staff of the Spanish Gabriel de Castilla scientific base during the fieldwork on Deception Island, financed by the project ANID-FONDECYT 1181745.
© 2021, The Author(s).