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Effects of Microclimate on Spring Flowering Phenology

Jackson, Marion T.
Ecology 1966 v.47 no.3 pp. 407-415
air temperature, flowering, highlands, latitude, microclimate, phenology, seasonal variation, spring, vegetation cover, wild flowers, Indiana
Sixteen microclimatic stations with differences in slope, exposure, vegetation cover, and seasonal change were established in a heavily dissected 180—acre Indiana tract. Correlations, based on cumulative air temperature duration—summations, were made between microclimatic differences and variation in phenological events. Nine widespread species of spring wildflowers had a collective mean range in dates of first flowering of 7.2 days for all stations. The maximum range for a single species was 11 days. Flowering dates of nine species of a large gorge were retarded an average of 6.0 days in the north—facing slope with respect to the opposing south—facing slope. This 6.0—day difference between gorge slopes 150 ft apart is equal to the expected to occur in about 110 miles of latitude, assuming standard exposures. Six species of the north—facing slope in a small gorge were retarded an average of 2.8 days with respect to the opposing south—facing slope. Flowering on north—facing gorge slopes was retarded more than in gorge bottoms, and upland stations had earlier than normal flowering dates. Mean flowering dates for the entire area were retarded more at cooler locations than warmer slopes were advanced. Air—temperature sums and flowering dates correlated well in a given microclimate. The results suggest that phenological research could be expedited by making observations in diverse microclimates during a few seasons rather than acquiring long—term phenological records.