Phenological sequences: how early-season events define those that follow.

Research paper by A K AK Ettinger, S S Gee, E M EM Wolkovich

Indexed on: 17 Oct '18Published on: 17 Oct '18Published in: American journal of botany


Plant phenology is a critical trait, as the timings of phenophases such as budburst, leafout, flowering, and fruiting, are important to plant fitness. Despite much study about when individual phenophases occur and how they may shift with climate change, little is known about how multiple phenophases relate to one another across an entire growing season. We test the extent to which early phenological stages constrain later ones, throughout a growing season, across 25 angiosperm tree species. We observed phenology (budburst, leafout, flowering, fruiting, and senescence) of 118 individual trees across 25 species, from April through December 2015. We found that early phenological events weakly constrain most later events, with the strongest constraints seen between consecutive stages. In contrast, interphase duration was a much stronger predictor of phenology, especially for reproductive events, suggesting that the development time of flowers and fruits may constrain the phenology of these events. Much of the variation in later phenological events can be explained by the timing of earlier events and by interphase durations. This highlights that a shift in one phenophase may often have cascading effects on later phases. Accurate forecasts of climate change impacts should therefore include multiple phenophases within and across years. © 2018 Botanical Society of America.