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12 October 2021 Small-Scale Winter Damage on Plants: Wind and Ice can Remove Plant Pubescence
V. Thomas Parker
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Pubescence has significant ecological roles modifying herbivory or physiology. Effects of mechanical ice damage on a small scale, such as loss of pubescence, are typically neither observed nor investigated. The objective of this study is to determine whether microscale ice damage occurs at a degree sufficient for potential ecological impacts. I documented differential loss of pubescence in the field on leaves and stems experiencing frequent snow and freezing rain. I also experimentally demonstrated in the lab the potential for hair loss due to ice formation under windy conditions. Observations in the field document that pubescence is removed from plants exposed above the snowpack, but plants beneath the snowpack are less affected. Plants in low-elevation sites not experiencing snow or ice show little loss of pubescence. Hair loss can be replicated experimentally with glaze ice, but only under windy conditions. These results extend the potential impacts of snow and ice damage to small scales. Given the multiple ecological roles of pubescence, such impacts may be important for plant success and may potentially influence community composition shifts under changing climates.

© 2021
V. Thomas Parker "Small-Scale Winter Damage on Plants: Wind and Ice can Remove Plant Pubescence," Western North American Naturalist 81(3), 385-395, (12 October 2021).
Received: 16 September 2020; Accepted: 16 February 2021; Published: 12 October 2021

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