International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 146–151 | Cite as

Masting by Betula-species; applying the resource budget model to north European data sets

  • Hanna Ranta
  • Annukka Oksanen
  • Tatu Hokkanen
  • Kristoffer Bondestam
  • Saini Heino
Original Article


Masting, the intermittent production of large crops of flowers by a plant population, is a common feature among trees in boreal and temperate forests. The pollen of many broadleaved trees causes allergic diseases, which are major causes of increasing health-care costs in industrialised countries. As the prevalence and severity of allergic diseases are connected with the concentrations of airborne pollen, an universal model predicting the intensity of the coming flowering would be a valuable tool for pollen information services, and ultimately for allergic people and allergologists. We investigated whether a resource budget model created in Japan explains the fluctuations in the annual pollen sums of Betula-species in north European data sets (10–12 years at 4 sites, 20 years at 10 sites). Using the shorter data sets, the model explained 76–92% of the annual fluctuations at five study sites. Using the 20-year data set, the percentage for southern Finland was much lower, only 48%, compared with the 85% of the 12-year data set. The annual pollen sums have been higher during the 1990s than in the 1980s, which may explain the ineffectiveness of the model, while applied to the 20-year data set. Our results support the resource budget model: the masting of birch species is regulated by weather factors together with the system of resource allocation among years. The model can serve pollen information service. However, only the 10 most recent years should be used to avoid interference from trends in changing vegetation and/or climate.


Allergic pollen Birch Masting Resource allocation Climate change 



We thank the staff of the Finnish Aerobiology Unit for their work during the past 25 years and the Finnish Meteorological Institute for the meteorological data. Ellen Valle revised the English of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanna Ranta
    • 1
  • Annukka Oksanen
    • 1
  • Tatu Hokkanen
    • 2
  • Kristoffer Bondestam
    • 3
  • Saini Heino
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Aerobiology UnitUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.The Finnish Forest Research InstituteVantaaFinland
  3. 3.The Skin and Allergy HospitalHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Kevo Subarctic Research StationUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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