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Time travelling seeds reveal that plant regeneration and growth traits are responding to climate change


Everingham, Susan (2021), Time travelling seeds reveal that plant regeneration and growth traits are responding to climate change, Dryad, Dataset,


Studies assessing the biological impacts of climate change typically rely on long-term, historic data. Here, we overcame the problem of absent historical data by using resurrected plant seeds.

We collected seed and seedling trait measurements from resurrected historic seeds and modern seeds from the same species in the same geographic location. Our modern/historic seed pairs for each species were selected from a range of regions that have undergone different amounts o climate change.

In regions where climate has changed to a greater degree (across a number of climate change variables), we found plant regeneration and growth traits to have changed more than in regions where climate changes have been marginal. Statistical model predictors of regeneration and growth trait changes (except stem density) combined at least two measures of climate change, indicating that these changes are correlated to climate change and that compounded changes, rather than change in a single climate metric, lead to plant regeneration and growth trait responses.

Synthesis: plant trait responses to climate change are positive news for the future of plants, hinting at their ability to respond relatively swiftly as the climate continues to change.


All data was collected through historic records of the older seeds (where they were collected, how they were stored) and also by lead author Susan Everingham. All data was collected by measuring seeds and seedlings in the experiment and no data has been processed in the uploaded files. All data processing occurred in R studio and code is freely available at (

Usage Notes

No missing values.


University of New South Wales

Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australian Research Council, Award: CE170100,DP180103611

Ecological Society of Australia