Tolerance of subzero winter cold in kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)
- 234 Downloads
The use of species distribution as a climate proxy for ecological forecasting is thought to be acceptable for invasive species. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is an important invasive whose northern distribution appears to be limited by winter survival; however, kudzu’s cold tolerance thresholds are uncertain. Here, we used biogeographic evidence to hypothesize that exposure to − 20 °C is lethal for kudzu and thus determines its northern distribution limit. We evaluated this hypothesis using survival tests and electrolyte leakage to determine relative conductivity, a measure of cell damage, on 14 populations from eastern North America. Relative conductivity above 36% was lethal. Temperatures causing this damage averaged − 19.6 °C for northern and − 14.4 °C for southern populations, indicating kudzu acclimates to winter cold. To assess this, we measured relative conductivity of above- and belowground stems, and roots collected throughout the winter at a kudzu population in southern Ontario, Canada. Consistent with acclimation, the cold tolerance threshold of aboveground stems at the coldest time of year was − 26 °C, while stems insulated from cold extremes survived to − 17 °C—colder than the survival limits indicated by kudzu’s biogeographic distribution. While these results do not rule out alternative cold limitations, they indicate kudzu can survive winters north of its current distribution. For kudzu, biogeography is not a proxy for climatic tolerance and continued northward migration is possible. Efforts to limit its spread are therefore prudent. These results demonstrate that physiological constraints inform predictions of climate-related changes in species distribution and should be considered where possible.
KeywordsFreezing tolerance Global warming Invasive species Species distributions Thermal acclimation Climate equilibrium Niche shift
We are grateful to Karen Castro and the many other people who helped us locate and compile kudzu sites, and to Jessamyn Manson, Patrick Friesen, Murilo Peixoto, Florian Busch, and Jerri Lee, who assisted with field work. This work was supported by a Discovery Grant from the National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada to RFS, by an Invasive Species Centre Partnership Fund grant to RFS and HAC from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and by graduate fellowships to HAC from the Ontario Ministry of Education and the University of Toronto.
Author contribution statement
HC designed and performed the experiments and data analysis, KH and JVD analyzed the climate data, LZ and RS conceived of the study, and LZ assisted with the Maryland collections and experiments. HC and RS wrote the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Abramovitz JN (1983) Pueraria lobata Willd. (Ohwi), Kudzu: limitations to sexual reproduction. University of Maryland, College ParkGoogle Scholar
- Bailey RY (1939) Kudzu for erosion control in the Southeast. Farmers Bull No. 1840Google Scholar
- Bentley KE, Mauricio R (2016) High degree of clonal reproduction and lack of large-scale geographic patterning mark the introduced range of the invasive vine, kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata), in North America. Am J Bot 103:1499–1507. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1500434 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Coiner HA (2012) The role of low temperatures in determining the northern range limit of kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata), an invasive vine in North America. PhD Dissertation, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of TorontoGoogle Scholar
- Fischlin A, Midgley GF, Price J, Leemans R, Gopal B, Turley C, Rounsevell M, Dube P, Tarazona J, Velichko A (2007) Ecosystems, their properties, goods and services. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 212–272Google Scholar
- Follak S (2011) Potential distribution and environmental threat of Pueraria lobata. Cent Eur J Biol 6:1–10Google Scholar
- GBIF (2008) Global biodiversity information facility data portal. http://www.gbif.org
- Hardin JW, Hilbe JM (2007) Generalized linear models and extensions. Stata Press, College StationGoogle Scholar
- Levitt J (1980) Responses of plants to environmental stresses. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Martyn D (1992) Climates of the World. Polish Scientific Publishers Ltd, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
- McClain WE, Shimp J, Esker TL et al (2006) Distribution and reproductive potential of kudzu (Pueraria lobata, Fabaceae) in Illinois, USA. Trans Ill State Acad Sci 99:17–30Google Scholar
- Mehrhoff LJ, Silander JA, Leicht SA, et al (2003) IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA. http://www.ipane.org
- Rawlins KA, Griffin JE, Moorhead DJ, Bargeron CT, Evans CW (2011) EDDMapS: invasive plant mapping handbook. The University of Georgia, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, Tifton, GA. 32 pGoogle Scholar
- R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing. ViennaGoogle Scholar
- Shurtleff W, Aoyagi A (1985) The book of kudzu: A Culinary and Healing Guide. Avery Publishing Group, WayneGoogle Scholar
- Sorrie BA, Perkins WD (1988) Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) in New England. Rhodora 90:341–343Google Scholar
- Tropicos (2008) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org
- USDA N (2012) The plants database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. http://plants.usda.gov. Accessed 15 Nov 2012
- Usda-Ars C (1971) Common weeds of the United States. Dover Publications Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
- William C (1924) Kudzu, a failure in Ohio. Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 382Google Scholar