J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (4): 742-750 .DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtz011

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Seasonal distribution of increased precipitation in maternal environments influences offspring performance of Potentilla tanacetifolia in a temperate steppe ecosystem

Yang Li1,2,3, Longyu Hou3, Bing Song3, Shiqiang Wan4, Xiaoqin Sun5 and Linghao Li3,*   

  1. 1 Xi’an Botanical Garden of Shaanxi Province, Institute of Botany of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an 710061, China
    2 Shaanxi Engineering Research Centre for Conservation and Utilization of Botanical Resources, Xi’an 710061, China
    3 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    4 College of Life Science, Hebei University, Baoding 071000, China
    5 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology (ESPRE), Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    *Correspondence address. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China. Tel: +86-10-62836282; Fax:+86-10-62599059; E-mail: llinghao@ibcas.ac.cn
  • Received:2018-03-22 Revised:2019-02-19 Accepted:2019-02-26 Online:2019-02-27 Published:2019-08-01



Precipitation is predicted to increase in arid and semiarid regions under climate change, with greater changes in intra- and inter-annual distribution in the future. As a major limiting factor in these regions, changes in precipitation undoubtedly influence plant growth and productivity. However, how the temporal shifts in precipitation will impact plant populations are uncertain.


A 3-year field experiment and a greenhouse experiment were conducted in a temperate grassland in northern China to examine the impacts of seasonal (spring and summer) increased precipitation on offspring performance of a common species, Potentilla tanacetifolia.

Important Findings

Our results showed that the amounts and timing of increased precipitation both played important roles in regulating offspring performance of P. tanacetifolia in the temperate steppe ecosystem. Increased precipitation in spring at maternal stage stimulated seed production, germination percentage and seedling biomass, whereas increased precipitation in summer at maternal stage stimulated seedling biomass. The timing of increased precipitation influenced seed attributes, whereas the amount of increased precipitation influenced offspring seedling biomass. Our results indicate that population development of P. tanacetifolia may be underestimated under future increased precipitation regime, if the transgenerational effect is not taken into account.

Key words: precipitation regime, seed traits, seedling growth, semiarid grassland