Changes in the Mediterranean pine forest: pollination patterns and annual trends of airborne pollen
In some areas, forests are being affected in diverse aspects such as structure, composition and biodiversity showing an increase or a decrease in the growth rates. Pinus is one of the most dominant genera in the forests of the Northern Hemisphere. This study analyzes the pine pollination patterns in 30 locations of Spain with an average of 21-year dataset. The aim is to evaluate possible changes in flowering intensity as well as in annual pollen production trends, according to the airborne pollen patterns. Annual Pollen Indices show three threshold values: (1) over 4000 grains per year in Catalonia, the Central System Mountains and Ourense (Galicia), (2) between 4000 and 1000 grains in central-south Spain and in the Balearic Islands, and (3) under 1000 in eastern Spain, Cartagena and the Canary Islands. Airborne pollen patterns were also influenced by Pinus species: The species located in the littoral and low land areas pollinated in the first pollination phase, from February to April, and the mountain pine species did in the second one, from April to June. The statistical analyses reveal increasing significant trends in 12 sites and significant decreasing trends in two. The Pinus flowering intensity is showing an earlier start and a delay in the end of the pollination period, thus a longer period of pollen in the air. This study suggests that the aerobiological monitoring is an interesting bio-indicator of changes happening in Pinus landscapes, and therefore explains the vulnerability of this genus in Spain.