Asymmetric sensitivity of first flowering date to warming and cooling in alpine plants

S. P. Wang, F. D. Meng, J. C. Duan, Y. F. Wang, X. Y. Cui, S. L. Piao, H. S. Niu, G. P. Xu, C. Y. Luo, C. Y. Luo, X. X. Zhu, M. G. Shen, Y. N. Li, M. Y. Du, Y. H. Tang, X. Q. Zhao, P. Ciais, B. Kimball, J. Peñuelas, I. A. JanssensS. J. Cui, L. Zhao, F. W. Zhang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    58 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2014 by the Ecological Society of America. Understanding how flowering phenology responds to warming and cooling (i.e., symmetric or asymmetric response) is needed to predict the response of flowering phenology to future climate change that will happen with the occurrence of warm and cold years superimposed upon a long-term trend. A three-year reciprocal translocation experiment was performed along an elevation gradient from 3200 m to 3800 m in the Tibetan Plateau for six alpine plants. Transplanting to lower elevation (warming) advanced the first flowering date (FFD) and transplanting to higher elevation (cooling) had the opposite effect. The FFD of early spring flowering plants (ESF) was four times less sensitive to warming than to cooling (by -2.1 d/°C and 8.4 d/°C, respectively), while midsummer flowering plants (MSF) were about twice as sensitive to warming than to cooling (-8.0 d/°C and 4.9 d/°C, respectively). Compared with pooled warming and cooling data, warming alone significantly underpredicted 3.1 d/°C for ESF and overestimated 1.7 d/°C for MSF. These results suggest that future empirical and experimental studies should consider nonlinear temperature responses that can cause such warming-cooling asymmetries as well as differing life strategies (ESF vs. MSF) among plant species.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3387-3398
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


    • Early spring flowering
    • First flowering date
    • Global warming
    • Midsummer flowering
    • Temperature sensitivity
    • Tibetan Plateau
    • Warming and cooling


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