Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2008, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (6): 1312-1322.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2008.06.012

• Original article • Previous Articles     Next Articles


ZHANG Feng, ZHOU Guang-Sheng(), WANG Yu-Hui   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
  • Received:2008-03-10 Accepted:2008-04-24 Online:2008-03-10 Published:2008-11-30
  • Contact: ZHOU Guang-Sheng


Aims Recent studies, including field measurements, satellite-derived vegetation indices and simulations from a dynamic vegetation model, have demonstrated that global warming is influencing plant growth and phenology. Changes in plant phenology have considerable consequences for ecosystem function, but information on responses of plant phenology to climate change is lacking, especially in a community setting. Therefore, to accurately predict the future responses of plants to climate variation, a through understanding of plant phenological cycles and their relationships to light, temperature and precipitation is required.

Methods We compiled a phenological calendar with 31 phenophases of budding, inflorescence, tasselling, flowering, fruiting and senescence for Leymus chinensis, Stipa krylovii, Cleistogenes squarrosa, Allium anisopodium, Artemisia frigida, Heteropappus altaicus and Artemisia scoparia for semi-aridStipa krylovii steppe in Inner Mongolia from 1985 to 2002. Relationships among phenophases, variability, and climatic driving were examined using correlation analysis.

Important findings The climate of Stipa krylovii steppe exhibited a trend for warming and drying, with significantly increased air temperature in spring and summer and markedly decreased precipitation in autumn. Linear regression analysis indicated that spring phenophases occurred later and summer and autumn phenophases moved earlier. Phenophases in July and August with higher temperature were the most sensitive to climate change. Plant phenology was primarily controlled by light and air temperature. Phenophases of budding were highly correlated with canopy light interception in February and March and with air temperature of the coldest month, January. Other phenophases, from inflorescence, tasselling, flowering, fruiting to senescence, were negatively correlated with canopy light interception in July and August, and precipitation in June and July was negatively related to inflorescence, tasselling and flowering. The timing of senescence was postponed by precipitation in August and September, which promoted lengthening of the growing season.

Key words: climate change, plant phenology, Stipa krylovii steppe, Inner Mongolian