Research output

Phenology and growth of Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur seedlings in response to temperature variation in the parental versus offspring generation

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article


  • S Dewan
  • P De Frenne
  • O Leroux
  • I Nijs
  • K Verheyen

Departments, research groups and services

External Organisations

  • Forest & Nature Lab, Department of Environment, Ghent University, Gontrode, Belgium.
  • Biology Department, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • Ethology Research Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium.


Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Biology
Volume22 Suppl 1
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2020


Plants are known to respond to warming temperatures. Few studies, however, have included the temperature experienced by the parent plant in the experimental design, in spite of the importance of this factor for population dynamics. We investigated the phenological and growth responses of seedlings of two key temperate tree species (Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur) to spatiotemporal temperature variation during the reproductive period (parental generation) and experimental warming of the offspring. To this end, we sampled oak and beech seedlings of different ages (1-5 years) from isolated mother trees and planted the seedlings in a common garden. Warming of the seedlings advanced bud burst in both species. In oak seedlings, higher temperatures experienced by mother trees during the reproductive period delayed bud burst in control conditions, but advanced bud burst in heated seedlings. In beech seedlings, bud burst timing advanced both with increasing temperatures during the reproductive period of the parents and with experimental warming of the seedlings. Relative diameter growth was enhanced in control oak seedlings but decreased with warming when the mother plant experienced higher temperatures during the reproductive period. Overall, oak displayed more plastic responses to temperatures than beech. Our results emphasise that temperature during the reproductive period can be a potential determinant of tree responses to climate change.

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  • Dewan_et_al-2019-Plant_Biology

    Final published version, 751 KB, PDF document


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