Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Botany: Leafing out and climate change

Date:
June 20, 2014
Source:
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)
Summary:
Global warming is generally expected to bring spring forward but, as a new study shows, a concomitant influx of plant species from warmer southern latitudes could counteract this effect. Climate change is already clearly discernible in our part of the world. Data from local weather stations indicate that the average temperature in the Munich region has risen by 1.5°C over the past century. Biologists have now looked at the effects of this warming trend on the timing of leaf emergence ("leaf-out") in a broad range of shrubs and trees.

In beech (Fagus sylvatica) leaf-out requires 13 hours of daylight, regardless of whether the spring was warm or cool and moist.
Credit: Image courtesy of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)

Global warming is generally expected to bring spring forward but, as a new study at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich shows, a concomitant influx of plant species from warmer southern latitudes could counteract this effect.

Climate change is already clearly discernible in our part of the world. Data from local weather stations indicate that the average temperature in the Munich region has risen by 1.5°C over the past century. LMU biologist Professor Susanne Renner and her research group have now looked at the effects of this warming trend on the timing of leaf emergence ("leaf-out") in a broad range of shrubs and trees.

The inducers of leaf-out

"It is widely believed that warmer temperatures will extend the growing season and that leaf-out in our flora will occur at progressively earlier times in the year. However, whether air temperature or day-length is the dominant factor determining the date of leaf-out is actually known for very few of the thousands of species of trees and shrubs," says Renner. As Director of Munich's Botanic Garden, she was in a position to remedy this situation.

Some 16,000 plant species from diverse climate zones are cultivated in the Garden, and Renner and her doctoral student Constantin Zohner have taken advantage of this unique resource to monitor the timing of leaf-out in nearly 500 different species of woody plants. "Such a comprehensive phenological study has never been undertaken before," says Renner. Temperature and day-length are the primary triggers of leaf development, and selective forces during the course of evolution have determined which signal is actually used in a given species. The results of the new study show that, in many woody plants that thrive in warmer southern climes, day-length acts as a safety barrier so that these trees don't risk having their leaves damaged by late frosts -- and increased temperature does not override this barrier.

Beech requires long days

This strategy is the better bet for thermophilic species because they are unable to cope with frost damage and are therefore susceptible to late frosts. "This evolutionary adaptation is particularly striking in the case of beech trees, in which leaf-out occurs relatively late in the year," Renner adds. "The beech in Central Europe is a relic of the warmer temperatures that prevailed during the Tertiary Period; leaf emergence requires 13 hours of daylight, regardless of whether the spring was warm or cool and moist."

"Southern species develop their first leaves up to a month later than plants from our temperate climate," says Renner, "and the more of these thermophilic species expand their range northwards as temperatures rise, the more late flushers we may gain. Moreover, species that are already adapted to our northerly climates are unlikely to undergo leaf-out at ever earlier times, because they require prior exposure to a certain number of chilly days to prime the process.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Constantin M. Zohner, Susanne S. Renner. Common garden comparison of the leaf-out phenology of woody species from different native climates, combined with herbarium records, forecasts long-term change. Ecology Letters, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12308

Cite This Page:

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). "Botany: Leafing out and climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620102316.htm>.
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). (2014, June 20). Botany: Leafing out and climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620102316.htm
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). "Botany: Leafing out and climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620102316.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins