Phenology of 16 species of ferns in a subtropical forest of northeastern Taiwan
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A knowledge of fern phenology promotes understanding of the biology and ecology of ferns. In this study, the phenology of 16 fern species in a subtropical broadleaf forest (N24°46′, E121°34′) in northeastern Taiwan was monitored from August 1997 to August 2001. Every fern produced both fertile and sterile leaves in each year of the study. Most fertile leaves emerged in February and March, whereas most sterile leaves emerged from May to September. Most leaves reached full expansion during April–July and died during April–August. The average life span of leaves ranged from 4.4 months to 30.3 months. In seven species, fertile leaves lived longer than sterile leaves, but this difference was significant only in Pteris wallichiana. In the other nine species, sterile leaves lived longer than fertile leaves, but the difference was significant only in Cyathea spinulosa, Plagiogyria dunnii, and Plagiogyria adanata. The ephemeral fertile leaves of the two dimorphic species died soon after releasing their spores, at only 5 months of age. However, their sterile leaves survived for over 22 months. The fertile leaves of the other 14 species remained green for almost 2 years after releasing their spores. Sterile leaves remained sterile throughout their lives. Spores matured in May–July and were released in June–August. After spore release, the sporangia detached. No leaf produced a second cohort of sori. Several phenological events, including sterile leaf emergence, leaf expansion and senescence, and spore maturation and release, were significantly positively correlated with temperature but not with precipitation, whereas the emergence of fertile leaves was weakly negatively correlated with temperature and precipitation. However, those correlations varied among different species.
KeywordsFern Fertile and sterile leaf Leaf life span Phenology Pteridology Seasonality
We thank reviewers for their useful comments and Alan Warneke for English editing assistance. This research was supported by the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute.
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