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Within-stand variation in silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) phenology

Abstract

Key message

Within a local population genotypes differ in the timing of bud burst, but genotypes with early bud burst unfold their leaves slower, resulting in an equal period of carbon gain.

Abstract

The ability of local populations to cope with disturbances like adverse weather events or a changing climate depends on the genotypic richness of such populations, emphasising the importance of differences between genotypes in traits related to growth and survival at this scale. Due to their longevity, these differences are of special importance in trees, yet for trees, differences between genotypes within local populations remain unexplored. The phenological cycle is important in this respect, since a correct timing of phenological events is critical for growth and survival of trees, especially in environments with strong seasonality and changes in the timing of phenological events has consequences for, among others, net ecosystem productivity and the climate system as a whole. In this light accounting for differences in the timing of phenological events within species is currently identified as a research challenge. This study contributes to the knowledge of differences between genotypes on the small spatial scale of a local population. We examined the timing of phenological events of 15 micropropagated silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) genotypes representing a natural population. Measurements covered bud burst (7 years) and leaf unfolding in spring and chlorophyll degradation in autumn (2 years for both). These data were used to estimate the period of carbon gain. Differences between genotypes in the temperature sum required for bud burst were present, with genotypes showing ‘early’ (i.e. a low temperature sum requirement for bud burst) and ‘late’ bud burst across the 7-year study period. Differences were small in most years (i.e. 3 days), but differences of 16 days were recorded within the 7-year study period as well. Genotypes with ‘early’ bud burst were less sensitive to variations in environmental conditions in spring compared to genotypes with ‘late’ bud burst. Differences in bud burst were not carried over to the estimated period of carbon gain. Due to faster leaf expansion in genotypes with ‘late’ bud burst and the lack of differences between genotypes in autumn senescence the estimated period of carbon gain was similar among genotypes.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Carmen del Castillo Campos, Carmen Fernandez, Veli-Matti Hartikainen, Maria Herrera Harana, Heikki Kinnunen, Tuuli Lajunen, Matti Muukkonen, Marjut Mutikainen, Heidi Oranen, Twan Possen, Tarja Salminen, Hanni Sikanen, Jussi Tiainen and Anu Turunen for their excellent technical assistance. Statistical advice by Jaakko Heinonen (The Finnish Forest Research Institute) is greatly appreciated. Egbert Beuker and Sylvia den Held provided useful comments on the manuscript. Joanna Short kindly checked the English language. This work was funded by the Academy of Finland (project 133084).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Boy J. H. M. Possen.

Additional information

Communicated by G. Piovesan.

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468_2014_1087_MOESM1_ESM.tif

Supplement Fig. 1. Average daily temperature (a,b) and temperature sum development (c,d) during 2002-2005 (a,c) and 2010-2012 (b,d) during the time of bud burst (i.e. between April 1st (Day of the year 91) and May 31st (Day of the year 151) of the 15 Betula pendula genotypes. (TIFF 778 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 36 kb)

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Possen, B.J.H.M., Rousi, M., Silfver, T. et al. Within-stand variation in silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) phenology. Trees 28, 1801–1812 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-014-1087-x

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Keywords

  • Betula pendula
  • Bud burst
  • Leaf unfolding
  • Growing period
  • Autumn senescence
  • Genotypic differences