Common gardens to study the genetic and environmental determinants of phenology

To study the genetic and environmental effects on phenology I am gathering observational and experimental data on the timing of spring leaf-out and autumn leaf senescence in several hundred temperate woody plant species grown in common gardens. This data is integral to understanding the evolutionary forces underlying plant’s growth strategies and forecasting phenological changes under climate warming.

Winter bud of Acer pseudoplatanus shortly before leaf unfolding


Genotypic differences between species from different regions: Contrasting responses of North American (NA), European (EU) and East Asian (EA) species to experimentally reduced winter chilling. Figure from Zohner et al. (2017)


Phylogenetic signals in leaf-out dates as inferred from common garden observations. See Zohner et al. (2017)


Related publications:

Zohner C.M., Renner S.S. 2017. Innately shorter vegetation periods in North American species explain native–non-native phenological assymetries. Nature Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0307-3

Zohner C.M., Benito B.M., Fridley J.D., Svenning J.-C., Renner S.S. 2017. Spring predictability explains different leaf-out strategies in the Northern Hemisphere woody floras. Ecology letters 20, 452–460.

Zohner C.M., Benito B.M., Svenning J.-C., Renner S.S. 2016. Day length unlikely to constrain climate-driven shifts in leaf-out times of northern woody plants. Nature Climate Change 6, 1120–1123.

Muffler L., Beierkuhnlein C., Aas G., Jentsch A., Schweiger A.H., Zohner C.M., Kreyling J. 2016. Distribution ranges and spring phenology explain late frost sensitivity of 170 woody plants from the Northern hemisphere. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25, 1061–1071.

Zohner C.M., Renner S.S. 2014. 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 17, 1016–1025.