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Extreme weather postpones the flowering time of plants
Date:11/5/2008

me weather events, the effects of such events on ecology have previously been researched very little. Scientists working with Prof. Anke Jentsch have therefore set up an experimental site in the ecological botanical garden in Bayreuth, to investigate the effects of extreme weather events such as droughts or heavy rains. The investigation area with an average annual temperature of 8.2 C and 724 millimeters annual rainfall is situated in a transitional zone between the Atlantic and Continental climates. One hundread plants of each widely distributed species like for example Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus), Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and Heather (Calluna vulgaris) were planted on each of 30 4m2 experimental plots. Using plastic tarpaulin covers the researchers were able to simulate an extreme dry period of 32 days and a period of extreme rain using artificial rain with 170 millimeters of rainfall lasting 14 days, corresponding to a local 100-year extreme weather event. Both simulations correspond to the historical highest values that were recorded in Bayreuth in the summer of 1976 and 1977. The sites were observed over two years and the flowering time of all plants recorded. During this period it transpired that two weeks of heavy rain shortened the flowering period by 3 to 5 days, and in the case of an important spring-time the flowering period was even shortened by 37 days and started 26 days earlier. Conversely with a long drought period of one month: on average the plants flowered in total for four days longer and also four days earlier than usual. "A single extreme drought can therefore have similar effects on flowering as a decade of global warming", explains Anke Jentsch. "The climate change with more frequent extreme weather events will have extensive consequences for ecosystems and interactions between species."


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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1635
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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