, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 895-902
Date: 27 Sep 2011

Response of the Morus bombycis growing season to temperature and its latitudinal pattern in Japan

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Changes in leaf phenology lengthen the growing season length (GSL, the days between leaf budburst and leaf fall) under the global warming. GSL and the leaf phenology response to climate change is one of the most important predictors of climate change effect on plants. Empirical evidence of climatic effects on GSL remains scarce, especially at a regional scale and the latitudinal pattern. This study analyzed the datasets of leaf budburst and fall phenology in Morus bombycis (Urticales), which were observed by the agency of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) from 1953 to 2005 over a wide range of latitudes in Japan (31 to 44° N). In the present study, single regression slopes of leaf phenological timing and air temperature across Japan were calculated and their spatial patterns using general linear models were tested. The results showed that the GSL extension was caused mainly by a delay in leaf fall phenology. Relationships between latitude and leaf phenological and GSL responses against air temperature were significantly negative. The response of leaf phenology and GSL to air temperature at lower latitudes was larger than that at higher latitudes. The findings indicate that GSL extension should be considered with regards to latitude and climate change.