Long-term temporal changes in central European tree phenology (1946−2010) confirm the recent extension of growing seasons
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One of the ways to assess the impacts of climate change on plants is analysing their long-term phenological data. We studied phenological records of 18 common tree species and their 8 phenological phases, spanning 65 years (1946−2010) and covering the area of the Czech Republic. For each species and phenophase, we assessed the changes in its annual means (for detecting shifts in the timing of the event) and standard deviations (for detecting changes in duration of the phenophases). The prevailing pattern across tree species was that since around the year 1976, there has been a consistent advancement of the onset of spring phenophases (leaf unfolding and flowering) and subsequent acceleration of fruit ripening, and a delay of autumn phenophases (leaf colouring and leaf falling). The most considerable shifts in the timing of spring phenophases were displayed by early-successional short-lived tree species. The most pronounced temporal shifts were found for the beginning of seed ripening in conifers with an advancement in this phenophase of up to 2.2 days year−1 in Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris). With regards to the change in duration of the phenophases, no consistent patterns were revealed. The growing season has extended on average by 23.8 days during the last 35 years. The most considerable prolongation was found in Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur): 31.6 days (1976−2010). Extended growing season lengths do have the potential to increase growth and seed productivity, but unequal shifts among species might alter competitive relationships within ecosystems.
KeywordsClimate change Flowering Growing season Long-term trends Phenology Trees
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