A phenological timetable of oak growth under experimental drought and air warming

Thomas M. Kuster, Matthias Dobbertin, Madeleine S. Günthardt-Goerg, Marcus Schaub, Matthias Arend

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    Climate change is expected to increase temperature and decrease summer precipitation in Central Europe. Little is known about how warming and drought will affect phenological patterns of oaks, which are considered to possess excellent adaptability to these climatic changes. Here, we investigated bud burst and intra-annual shoot growth of Quercus robur, Q. petraea and Q. pubescens grown on two different forest soils and exposed to air warming and drought. Phenological development was assessed over the course of three growing seasons. Warming advanced bud burst by 1-3 days °C-1 and led to an earlier start of intra-annual shoot growth. Despite this phenological shift, total time span of annual growth and shoot biomass were not affected. Drought changed the frequency and intensity of intra-annual shoot growth and advanced bud burst in the subsequent spring of a severe summer drought by 1-2 days. After re-wetting, shoot growth recovered within a few days, demonstrating the superior drought tolerance of this tree genus. Our findings show that phenological patterns of oaks are modified by warming and drought but also suggest that ontogenetic factors and/or limitations of water and nutrients counteract warming effects on the biomass and the entire span of annual shoot growth. © 2014 Kuster et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere89724
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2014


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