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20 February 2024 Loss of moisture from the lack of a snowpack increases winter frond damage in Dryopteris intermedia
Jack T. Tessier
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Climate change is leading to a less consistent snowpack in North America, and many species are affected by its loss. The question addressed in this study is how changes in temperature and moisture from the loss of snowpack separately affect overwintering fronds of the wintergreen fern Dryopteris intermedia (Muhl. ex Willd.) A. Gray. In a field study, the control had the snowpack left intact, the snow removal treatment had snow removed for the first and last 4 wk of winter, and the snow removal with barrier matched the snow removal treatment but with a moisture barrier over the plant. The control treatment had the most snow and the highest litter temperatures. Litter moisture was highest in the control and lowest in the snow removal treatment. Frond moisture was lower and frond damage was higher in the snow removal treatment than in the control and snow removal-with-barrier treatments. Frond damage was associated with the moisture but not the temperature in the environment around the frond. The loss of moisture can be as important as the lack of thermal insulation to damage experienced by D. intermedia when a snowpack is not present in winter.

Jack T. Tessier "Loss of moisture from the lack of a snowpack increases winter frond damage in Dryopteris intermedia," The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 151(1), 32-41, (20 February 2024).
Received: 23 May 2023; Published: 20 February 2024
climate change
forest understory
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