, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 67-75

The importance of phenology for the evaluation of impact of climate change on growth of boreal, temperate and Mediterranean forests ecosystems: an overview

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Abstract 

An overview is presented of the phenological models relevant for boreal coniferous, temperate-zone deciduous and Mediterranean coniferous forest ecosystems. The phenology of the boreal forests is mainly driven by temperature, affecting the timing of the start of the growing season and thereby its duration, and the level of frost hardiness and thereby the reduction of foliage area and photosynthetic capacity by severe frost events. The phenology of temperate-zone forests is also mainly driven by temperature. Since temperate-zone forests are mostly mixed-species deciduous forests, differences in phenological response may affect competition between tree species. The phenology of Mediterranean coniferous forests is mainly driven by water availability, affecting the development of leaf area, rather than the timing of phenological events. These phenological models were subsequently coupled to the process-based forest model FORGRO to evaluate the effect of different climate change scenarios on growth. The results indicate that the phenology of each of the forest types significantly affects the growth response to a given climate change scenario. The absolute responses presented in this study should, however, be used with caution as there are still uncertainties in the phenological models, the growth models, the parameter values obtained and the climate change scenarios used. Future research should attempt to reduce these uncertainties. It is recommended that phenological models that describe the mechanisms by which seasonality in climatic drivers affects the phenological aspects of trees should be developed and carefully tested. Only by using such models may we make an assessment of the impact of climate change on the functioning and productivity of different forest ecosystems.

Received: 21 October 1999 / Revised: 10 May 2000 / Accepted: 10 May 2000