Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2018, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (5): 526-538.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0305

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Responses of green-up dates of grasslands in China and woody plants in Europe to air temperature and precipitation: Empirical evidences based on survival analysis

ZHOU Tong1,CAO Ru-Yin2,WANG Shao-Peng1,CHEN Jin3,TANG Yan-Hong1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2 School of Resources and Environment, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 611731, China
    3 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Institute of Remote Sensing Science and Engineering, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2017-11-21 Revised:2018-02-11 Online:2018-05-20 Published:2018-07-20
  • Contact: Yan-Hong TANG
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.(41601381)


Aims Linear models have been widely used to examine the impacts of climatic factors on plant phenology, although the relationship between phenology and climate could be nonlinear. Based on survival analysis, robust nonlinear models were empirically developed to examine the phenological changes in relation to air temperature and precipitation for the grasslands in China and individual woody plants in Europe.

Methods Three datasets were used in our survival analysis: two datasets of the remotely-sensed vegetation phenology for grasslands in Nei Mongol grasslands and meadows in Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, and a dataset of the phenological observations of individual woody plants in Europe. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to estimate model parameters in our survival analysis.

Important findings The survival analysis appeared to be a powerful tool in modeling the nonlinear changes in green-up date (GUD) to the climatic factors. The analyses showed that both spring temperature and precipitation are significantly correlated with the GUD in the semi-arid grasslands in Nei Mongol. For Qinghai-Xizang Plateau and Europe, the spring temperature seemed highly correlated with GUD, while the correlation was weak with the higher Holdridge aridity index. The survival model predicted that the GUD in the three regions would be advanced by 1-6 days with an increase in temperature of 1 °C. A combined increase in spring temperature and precipitation would lead to nonlinear responses, suggesting the need for developing nonlinear models. Our empirical exercise in this study demonstrated that the survival analysis could offer an alternative tool for predicting plant phenology under the changing climate.

Key words: climate change, grassland, phenology, survival analysis, Qinghai-Xizang Plateau