Simulated climate warming decreases fruit number but increases seed mass

Hongbiao Zi, Xin Jing, Anrong Liu, Xiaomin Fan, Si Chong Chen, Hao Wang, Jin Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Climate warming is changing plant sexual reproduction, having consequences for species distribution and community dynamics. However, the magnitude and direction of plant reproductive efforts (e.g., number of flowers) and success (e.g., number and mass of fruits or seeds) in response to warming have not been well-characterized. Here, we generated a global dataset of simulated warming experiments, consisting of 477 pairwise comparisons for 164 terrestrial species. We found evidence that warming overall decreased fruit number and increased seed mass, but little evidence that warming influenced flower number, fruit mass, or seed number. The warming effects on seed mass were regulated by the pollination type, and insect-pollinated plants exhibited a stronger response to warming than wind-pollinated plants. We found strong evidence that warming increased the mass of seeds for the nondominant species but no evidence of this for the dominant species. There was no evidence that phylogenetic relatedness explained the effects of warming on plant reproductive effort and success. In addition, the effects of warming on flowering onset negatively related to the responses in terms of the number of fruits and seeds to warming, revealing a cascading effect of plant reproductive development. These findings provide the first quantification of the response of terrestrial plant sexual reproduction to warming and suggest that plants may increase their fitness by producing heavier seeds under a warming climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-855
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • climate warming
  • flowering phenology
  • meta-analysis
  • plant sexual reproduction
  • reproductive effort
  • reproductive success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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