, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 60-66

Phenology in central Europe – differences and trends of spring phenophases in urban and rural areas

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In order to examine the impacts of both large-scale and small-scale climate changes (urban climate effect) on the development of plants, long-term observations of four spring phenophases from ten central European regions (Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Prague, Vienna, Zurich, Basle and Chur) were analysed. The objective of this study was to identify and compare the differences in the starting dates of the pre-spring phenophases, the beginning of flowering of the snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and forsythia (Forsythia sp.), and of the full-spring phenophases, the beginning of flowering of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and apple (Malus domestica), in urban and rural areas. The results indicate that, despite regional differences, in nearly all cases the species studied flower earlier in urbanised areas than in the corresponding rural areas. The forcing in urban areas was about 4 days for the pre-spring phenophases and about 2 days for the full-spring phenophases. The analysis of trends for the period from 1951 to 1995 showed tendencies towards an earlier flowering in all regions, but only 22% were significant at the 5% level. The trends for the period from 1980 to 1995 were much stronger for all regions and phases: the pre-spring phenophases on average became earlier by 13.9 days/decade in the urban areas and 15.3 days/decade in the rural areas, while the full-spring phenophases were 6.7 days earlier/decade in the urban areas and 9.1 days/decade earlier in the rural areas. Thus rural areas showed a higher trend towards an earlier flowering than did urban areas for the period from 1980 to 1995. However, these trends, especially for the pre-spring phenophases, turned out to be extremely variable.

Received: 21 October 1999 / Revised: 5 April 2000 / Accepted: 25 April 2000