Infoscience

Journal article

Asymmetric effects of cooler and warmer winters on beech phenology last beyond spring

In temperate trees, the timings of plant growth onset and cessation affect biogeochemical cycles, water, and energy balance. Currently, phenological studies largely focus on specific phenophases and on their responses to warming. How differently spring phenology responds to the warming and cooling, and affects the subsequent phases, has not been yet investigated in trees. Here, we exposed saplings of Fagus sylvatica L. to warmer and cooler climate during the winter 2013-2014 by conducting a reciprocal transplant experiment between two elevations (1,340 vs. 371m a.s.l., ca. 6 degrees C difference) in the Swiss Jura mountains. To test the legacy effects of earlier or later budburst on the budset timing, saplings were moved back to their original elevation shortly after the occurrence of budburst in spring 2014. One degree decrease in air temperature in winter/spring resulted in a delay of 10.9 days in budburst dates, whereas one degree of warming advanced the date by 8.8 days. Interestingly, we also found an asymmetric effect of the warmer winter vs. cooler winter on the budset timing in late summer. Budset of saplings that experienced a cooler winter was delayed by 31days compared to the control, whereas it was delayed by only 10 days in saplings that experienced a warmer winter. Budburst timing in 2015 was not significantly impacted by the artificial advance or delay of the budburst timing in 2014, indicating that the legacy effects of the different phenophases might be reset during each winter. Adapting phenological models to the whole annual phenological cycle, and considering the different response to cooling and warming, would improve predictions of tree phenology under future climate warming conditions.

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