Climate change affects the phenology of many species. As temperature and precipitation are thought to control autumn color change in temperate deciduous trees, it is possible that climate change might also affect the phenology of autumn colors. Using long-term data for eight tree species in a New England hardwood forest, we show that the timing and cumulative amount of autumn color are correlated with variation in temperature and precipitation at specific times of the year. A phenological model driven by accumulated cold degree-days and photoperiod reproduces most of the interspecific and interannual variability in the timing of autumn colors. We use this process-oriented model to predict changes in the phenology of autumn colors to 2099, showing that, while responses vary among species, climate change under standard IPCC projections will lead to an overall increase in the amount of autumn colors for most species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)