Original Paper

International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 1103-1111

First online:

The phenology of Rubus fruticosus in Ireland: herbarium specimens provide evidence for the response of phenophases to temperature, with implications for climate warming

  • E. DiskinAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Centre for the Environment, Trinity College Dublin Email author 
  • , H. ProctorAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Centre for the Environment, Trinity College Dublin
  • , M. JebbAffiliated withNational Botanic Gardens
  • , T. SparksAffiliated withInstitute of Zoology, Poznań University of Life SciencesSigma, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Coventry University
  • , A. DonnellyAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Centre for the Environment, Trinity College Dublin

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To date, phenological research has provided evidence that climate warming is impacting both animals and plants, evidenced by the altered timing of phenophases. Much of the evidence supporting these findings has been provided by analysis of historic records and present-day fieldwork; herbaria have been identified recently as an alternative source of phenological data. Here, we used Rubus specimens to evaluate herbaria as potential sources of phenological data for use in climate change research and to develop the methodology for using herbaria specimens in phenological studies. Data relevant to phenology (collection date) were recorded from the information cards of over 600 herbarium specimens at Ireland’s National Herbarium in Dublin. Each specimen was assigned a score (0–5) corresponding to its phenophase. Temperature data for the study period (1852 – 2007) were obtained from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU); relationships between temperature and the dates of first flower, full flower, first fruit and full fruit were assessed using weighted linear regression. Of the five species of Rubus examined in this study, specimens of only one (R. fruticosus) were sufficiently abundant to yield statistically significant relationships with temperature. The results revealed a trend towards earlier dates of first flower, full flower and first fruit phenophases with increasing temperature. Through its multi-phenophase approach, this research serves to extend the most recent work—which validated the use of herbaria through use of a single phenophase—to confirm herbarium-based research as a robust methodology for use in future phenological studies.


Climate warming Flowering Fruiting Herbarium specimen Ireland Phenology Rubus