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Schoenoplectus salinity tolerance and regional environmental records

Cite this dataset

Blum, Michael (2021). Schoenoplectus salinity tolerance and regional environmental records [Dataset]. Dryad.


Evidence is mounting that climate-driven shifts in environmental conditions can elicit organismal evolution, yet there are sparingly few long-term records that document the tempo and progression of responses, particularly for plants capable of transforming ecosystems. In this study, we ‘resurrected’ cohorts of a foundational coastal marsh sedge (Schoenoplectus americanus) from a time-stratified seed bank to reconstruct a century-long record of heritable variation in response to salinity exposure. Common-garden experiments revealed that S. americanus exhibits heritable variation in phenotypic traits and biomass-based measures of salinity tolerance. We found that responses to salinity exposure differed among the revived cohorts, with plants from the early 20th century exhibiting greater salinity tolerance than those from the mid to late 20th century. Fluctuations in salinity tolerance could reflect stochastic variation but a congruent record of genotypic variation points to the alternative possibility that the loss and gain in functionality is driven by selection, with comparisons to historical rainfall and paleosalinity records suggesting that selective pressures vary according to shifting estuarine conditions. Because salinity tolerance in S. americanus is tightly coupled to primary productivity and other vital ecosystem attributes, these findings indicate that organismal evolution merits further consideration as a factor shaping coastal marsh responses to climate change.


Please refer to Blum et al. Evolution Letters for details.

Usage notes

Please refer to ReadMe file.


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1655781

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1655702

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-9910514

Environmental Protection Agency, Award: 4D-5709-NAEX)