The time at which plants bud after winter is dependent on three key factors; warming temperatures, longer day length, and genetics. Although a study conducted by UBC and Université de Montréal has shown that warming temperatures have the biggest influence on the timing of budburst, regardless of the species of shrub or tree.
This is the first study of its kind, as researchers compared the effect of both day length and temperature within and across different species. Understanding how these two factors act together to influence the timing of budburst will be essential as climate change continues, particularly in terms of managing forests and parks.
Mid-winter the researchers gathered branches from 10 different species of trees and shrubs, found in both Quebec and Massachusetts, and stored them in special growth chambers. The branches were exposed to different combinations of day length and temperatures and were monitored until budburst was observed. The results showed that, on average across all species, branches kept at warmer temperatures produced leaves from their buds 20 days earlier than those kept at colder temperatures.
By including DNA information about the plants in the analysis, the researchers were better able to predict the day of budburst for all the plant species in the study. This may one day allow researchers to predict the way plants will react to environmental cues, and be able to react to the effects of accelerating climate change.
Source: UBC News
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