Y. Vitasse and C.C. Bresson contributed equally to the data extraction, statistical analysis and preparation of the manuscript and are therefore considered to be co-first authors.
Quantifying phenological plasticity to temperature in two temperate tree species
Article first published online: 8 JUL 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society
Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 1211–1218, December 2010
How to Cite
Vitasse, Y., Bresson, C. C., Kremer, A., Michalet, R. and Delzon, S. (2010), Quantifying phenological plasticity to temperature in two temperate tree species. Functional Ecology, 24: 1211–1218. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2010.01748.x
- Issue published online: 24 NOV 2010
- Article first published online: 8 JUL 2010
- Received 1 March 2010; accepted 10 June 2010Handling Editor: Kaoru Kitajima
- altitudinal gradient;
- common garden;
- Fagus sylvatica;
- phenotypic plasticity;
- Quercus petraea;
- reaction norm
1. Phenotypic plasticity allows large shifts in the timing of phenology within one single generation and drives phenotypic variability under environmental changes, thus it will enhance the inherent adaptive capacities of plants against future changes of climate.
2. Using five common gardens set along an altitudinal gradient (100–1600 m asl.), we experimentally examined the phenotypic plasticity of leaf phenology in response to temperature increase for two temperate tree species (Fagus sylvatica and Quercus petraea). We used seedlings from three populations of each species inhabiting different altitudes (400, 800 and 1200 m asl.). Leaf unfolding in spring and leaf senescence in autumn were monitored on seedlings for 2 years.
3. Overall, a high phenological plasticity was found for both species. The reaction norms of leaf unfolding date to temperature linearly accelerated for both species with an average shift of −5·7 days per degree increase. Timing of leaf senescence exhibited hyperbolic trends for beech due to earlier senescence at the lowest elevation garden and no or slight trends for oak. There was no difference in the magnitude of phenological plasticity among populations from different elevations. For both species, the growing season length increased to reach maximum values at about 10–13 °C of annual temperature according to the population.
4. Since the magnitude of phenological plasticity is high for all the tested populations, they are likely to respond immediately to temperature variations in terms of leaf phenology. Consequently the mid- to high-elevation populations are likely to experience a longer growing season with climate warming. The results suggest that climate warming could lengthen the growing season of all populations over the altitudinal gradient, although the low-elevation populations, especially of beech, may experience accelerated senescence and shorter growing season due to drought and other climate changes associated with warming.