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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: Woody Species Phenology, Prospect Hill Tract, Harvard Forest - 2018
  • Primary Author: John O'Keefe (Harvard Forest)
  • Abstract:

    2018 was the twenty-ninth year in our ongoing investigation of the timing of woody vegetation development (phenology) during the growing season (Data are available at - http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu:8080/exist/xquery/data.xq?id=hf003). However in 2002 the scope of the study was changed significantly. For the first twelve years we observed bud break, leaf development, flowering, and fruit development on three or more individuals of 33 woody species at 3-7 day intervals from April through June. These observations documented substantial (up to three weeks difference) inter-annual variation in the timing of spring development, but good relative consistency among species and among individuals within species during these twelve years.

    Therefore, starting in 2002 we maintained the same observation schedule, but reduced the number of species observed through full development to nine, including red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), striped maple (A. pensylvanicum), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), beech (Fagus grandifolia), white ash (Fraxinus americana), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), red oak (Quercus rubra), and white oak (Q. alba). An additional seven species, including shadbush (Amelanchier sp.), black birch (B. lenta), paper birch (B. papyrifera), alternate-leaved dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), hawthorn (Crataegus sp.), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and black oak (Q. velutina), continue to be observed through bud break. This subset of important, representative species has allowed us to continue to characterize leaf development each spring and document inter-annual variability while reducing the resources required for the study significantly.

    We have also recorded fall phenology since 1991, with the exception of 1992. Approximately weekly observations of leaf coloration and leaf fall begin in September and continue through leaf fall. In 2002 the number of species observed in the fall was reduced to fourteen, including red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), striped maple (A. pensylvanicum), shadbush (Amelanchier sp.), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), black birch (B. lenta), paper birch (B. papyrifera), beech (Fagus grandifolia), white ash (Fraxinus americana), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), black cherry (Prunus serotina), white oak (Quercus alba), red oak,(Q. rubra) and black oak (Q. velutina).

    All individuals are located within 1.5 km of the Harvard Forest headquarters at elevations between 335 and 365 m, in habitats ranging from closed forest, through forest-swamp margins, to dry, open fields.

    The winter of 2017-18 featured a cold, dry December followed by a near normal January and then a very mild, wet February. Spring began cool in March with average precipitation, stayed very cool and wet in April, and then turned very warm and dry in May. June was warm and dry, then July and August were warm and quite wet. September was warm and very wet, October was near normal and November turned much cooler and very wet. The first frost at Harvard Forest occurred on October 18th, ten days later than the mean first frost date observed from 1990-2017, continuing the pattern of much later first frost dates over the past decade.

    Bud break in 2018 averaged very close to the long-term mean (Figure 1(Table 1)/Figures 2&3). However, red oak, the dominant tree species at Harvard Forest, maintained a trend toward earlier leaf emergence. Leaf development then progressed a bit slowly, but steadily, with 75% leaf development occurring several days later than the 28-year mean. The mild fall and late first frost date led to 50% leaf fall in 2018 being one of the six latest so far observed (Figure 4). 2018’s average leaf emergence date coupled with late leaf senescence resulted in a somewhat longer growing season than the long-term mean, maintaining the trend toward lengthened growing seasons over the period of our observations (Figure 5).

    The very earliness of leaf emergence in 1993, 1998, 2010 and 2012, and lateness in 1992, 1997, 2003, 2014 and 2016, along with the extreme earliness of leaf senescence and fall in 1994, 1995, 2006 and 2013 and lateness in 2002, 2015, 2016 and 2017, continue to point out the extreme variability in the timing of these events and the complexity of the factors controlling them. These observations emphasize the need to continue these long-term studies and data sets.

  • Research Category: Forest-Atmosphere Exchange; Large Experiments and Permanent Plot Studies

  • Figures:
  • Phenology_JOK_Figure 1_2019.pdf
    Phenology_JOK_Figure 2-2018.pdf
    Phenology_JOK_Figure 3-2018.pdf
    Phenology_JOK_Figure 4-2018.pdf
    Phenology_JOK_Figure 5-2018.pdf