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Forests 2019, 10(1), 50;

Drought Impact on Leaf Phenology and Spring Frost Susceptibility in a Quercus robur L. Provenance Trial

Croatian Forest Research Institute, 10450 Jastrebarsko, Croatia
Faculty of Forestry; University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 11 January 2019
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Research highlights: The susceptibility of oaks to late spring and early autumn frosts is directly related to their leaf phenology. Drought may alter the leaf phenology and therefore frost tolerance of oaks. However, the effects of drought on oak leaf phenology and frost resistance have not been thoroughly studied. Background and objectives: One of the consequences of climate change is an increase in the frequency of dry episodes during the vegetation period. Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) is an economically and ecologically important forest tree species that prefers humid habitats. Therefore, knowledge of the impact of drought on this species is of great importance for the adaptation of forestry strategies and practices to altered environmental conditions. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of drought on leaf phenology and spring frost susceptibility in nine provenances. Materials and methods: One-year-old saplings originating from nine European provenances were used in the trial. The saplings were exposed to experimental drought and then re-watered in two subsequent years. Spring and autumn leaf phenology were scored. The trial was impacted by a late spring frost in the third year, and the resulting leaf frost injury was scored. The effects of drought treatment on the phenology and frost susceptibility of plants from the provenances were analysed. Results: Leaf phenology of plants from most of the studied provenances was significantly influenced by the drought treatment (p < 0.001). Drought induced a carry-over effect on flushing phenology, which was observed as delayed bud burst (from 0.6 to 2.4 days) in the second year and as advanced bud burst (from 0.1 to 6.3 days) in the third year. Therefore, opposite shifts in flushing phenology may be induced as a result of differences in the time span when plants sense water deficits. In contrast to flushing, autumn leaf phenology was unambiguously delayed following the drought treatments for all studied provenances (from 2.1 to 25.8 days). Differences in late frost susceptibility were predominantly caused by among-provenance differences in flushing phenology. However, the drought treatment significantly increased frost susceptibility in the plants (the rate of frost-injured plants per provenance increased from 3% to 78%). This higher susceptibility to spring frost was most likely caused by the advanced flushing phenology that resulted from the drought treatment in the previous year. View Full-Text
Keywords: pedunculate oak; drought; stress; memory; flushing; autumn leaf senescence; phenological shift; carry-over effect pedunculate oak; drought; stress; memory; flushing; autumn leaf senescence; phenological shift; carry-over effect

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Čehulić, I.; Sever, K.; Katičić Bogdan, I.; Jazbec, A.; Škvorc, Ž.; Bogdan, S. Drought Impact on Leaf Phenology and Spring Frost Susceptibility in a Quercus robur L. Provenance Trial. Forests 2019, 10, 50.

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