What drives phenological synchrony? Warm springs advance and desynchronize flowering in oaks

M. Bogdziewicz*, J. Szymkowiak, R. Bonal, A. Hacket-Pain, J. M. Espelta, M. Pesendorfer, L. Grewling, I. Kasprzyk, J. Belmonte, K. Kluska, C. De Linares, J. Penuelas, M. Fernandez-Martinez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Annually variable and synchronous seed production, or masting, is often correlated with environmental factors and in oaks involves differential pollination success that depends on phenological synchrony in flowering. The synchronization of phenology of flowering was thought to be driven by temperature during flowering (microclimatic hypothesis). We tested an alternative, whereby phenological synchronization is driven by the timing of the onset of flowering (photoperiod-sensitivity hypothesis). This hypothesis assumes that flowering synchrony is driven by interaction between daylength and temperature, and individual variation in sensitivity to daylength as a phenological cue. We used long-term (23–26 years) records of airborne pollen in Quercus robur, Q. petraea, Q. ilex, and Q. humilis. Late pollen seasons were short, as predicted by photoperiod-sensitivity hypothesis. The onset of pollen seasons was delayed as preseason temperatures cooled over the last three decades at our Mediterranean sites, which was paralleled by shortening in pollen seasons, providing additional support for the photoperiod-sensitivity hypothesis. Global warming under the microclimatic hypothesis is predicted to lead to less frequent reproductive failures and thus decreased variability and synchrony of mast seeding. In contrast, warming under the photoperiod-sensitivity hypothesis should advance the onset of and desynchronize flowering, a pattern supported by our data. This pattern suggests that global warming will lead to more frequent vetoes and more stochastic and variable patterns of oak reproduction.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number108140
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2020


  • Flowering onset
  • Flowering synchrony
  • Global warming
  • Microclimatic variation
  • Phenology
  • Photoperiod sensitivity
  • Pollen


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