CR 39:227-234 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/cr00822

Influence of altitude on phenology of selected plant species in the Alpine region (1971–2000)

Chiara Ziello*, Nicole Estrella, Mariya Kostova, Elisabeth Koch, Annette Menzel

Chair of Ecoclimatology, Technische Universität München, Am Hochanger 13, 85354 Fresing, Germany Department of Climatology, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Hohe Warte 38, 1190 Wien, Austria

ABSTRACT: We present a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the influence of altitude on plant phenology over an area, delimited by 46 to 49°N latitude and 5 to 15°E longitude, that includes major parts of the Alpine region for the period 1971–2000. Our attention is focused on flowering of widely distributed plants in Europe, including some important allergenic species. We calculated the dependence of phenological mean dates on altitude for different phenophases as a linear regression. Results show a statistically significant linear dependence (p < 0.0001) for each phenophase, with regression coefficients that range from 0.92 ± 0.21 d (100 m)–1 altitude for beginning of flowering of Norway spruce to 4.56 ± 0.21 d (100 m)–1 for beginning of flowering of common hazel. Phenological temporal trends and thermal temporal trends show a less strong dependence on altitude, predominantly non-significant. The most significant regression coefficients are negative for phenological trends (beginning of flowering of common alder, –0.065 ± 0.028 d yr–1 (100 m)–1, p = 0.0187, and Norway spruce, –0.049 ± 0.020 d yr–1 (100 m)–1, p = 0.0167) and positive for temperature trends (February, 0.0017°C yr–1 (100 m)–1, p < 0.0001). The significant linear dependence of February temperature trends on altitude induces an inverse significant linear dependence for phenological trends of flowering of common alder (occurring in March). The prevalence of negative mean phenological trends suggests a stronger advance of flowering phases at higher altitude. Finally, a regional analysis suggests a tendency towards a stronger altitudinal response in the northern than in the southern Alps.

KEY WORDS: Phenology · Alpine region · Altitude · Altitudinal gradients · Onset dates · Temporal trends · Allergenic plants

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Cite this article as: Ziello C, Estrella N, Kostova M, Koch E, Menzel A (2009) Influence of altitude on phenology of selected plant species in the Alpine region (1971–2000). Clim Res 39:227-234

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