, Volume 212, Issue 7, pp 1193-1203
Date: 10 Feb 2011

Frost damage and its cascading negative effects on Aesculus glabra

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Abstract

Frost damage and re-foliation are seldom quantified for forest species, but are of ecological and evolutionary importance. This study of Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye) in a deciduous forest remnant in Illinois, USA, quantified frost damage to leaves and flowers after sub-freezing temperatures in April 2007. It also documented re-foliation and later growth, reproduction, and survival in 2007–2009 for the 355 study individuals of four life stages growing 0–200 m from the forest edge. Life stages differed in % leaf damage because of differences in phenology during the frost. Large saplings with fully expanded, immature leaves had higher % damage and lower % canopy fullness after re-foliation than smaller saplings with partially or fully mature leaves and canopy trees undergoing shoot expansion with folded leaflets. Percent damage increased for saplings closer to edges. Large saplings with heavier frost damage to leaves had partial re-foliation in deep shade, lower % canopy fullness, earlier senescence, a shorter growing season, and greater death of next year’s buds. By 2008, large saplings with greater damage in 2007 had more dead branches and lower % canopy fullness. By 2009, 11% of large saplings had died. In 2007, frost damaged no flowers, but final fruit crop size was negatively related to % leaf damage. Edge trees with total leaf damage aborted all fruits. The frost event differentially affected individuals in their length and time of growing season, energy budget, and, ultimately, reproduction, and survival. The population’s local-scale demography and spatial pattern also changed as large saplings died.