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Nutrient status: a missing factor in phenological and pollen research?

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      Phenology ranks among the best ecosystem processes for fingerprinting climate change since temperature explains a high percentage of the interannual or spatial variation in phenological onset dates. However, roles of other environmental variables, such as foliar nutrient concentrations, are far from adequately understood. This observational study examined the effects of air temperature and 11 nutrients on spring phenology of Betula pendula Roth (birch) along an urban–rural gradient in Munich, Germany, during the years 2010/2011. Moreover, the influence of temperature, nutrients, and air pollutants (NO 2 and O 3) on the amounts of pollen and catkin biomass in 2010 was evaluated. In addition to the influence of higher temperatures advancing phenological onset dates, higher foliar concentrations of potassium, boron, zinc, and calcium were statistically significantly linked to earlier onset dates. Since flushing of leaves is a turgor-driven process and all the influential nutrients are involved in cell extension, membrane function, and stability, there might be a reasonable physiological interpretation of the observed association. The amounts of pollen were negatively correlated with temperature, atmospheric NO 2, and foliar iron concentration, suggesting that these variables restrict pollen production. The results of this study suggested an influence of nutritional status on both phenology and pollen production. The interaction of urbanization and climate change should be considered in the assessment of the impact of global warming on ecosystems and human health.

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      1Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Ecoclimatology, Technische Universität München , Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2, D-85354 Freising, Germany
      2Mathematical Statistics, Technische Universität München , Boltzmannstraße 3, D-85748 Garching b. München, Germany
      3Center of Allergy and Environment (ZAUM), Technische Universität München and Helmholtz Center , Biedersteiner Str. 29, D-80802 Munich, Germany
      4Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Forest Nutrition and Water Resources, Technische Universität München , Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2, D-85354 Freising, Germany
      5Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Technische Universität München , Biedersteiner Str. 29, D-80802 Munich, Germany
      Author notes
      *To whom correspondence should be addressed. E–mail: jochner@
      J Exp Bot
      J. Exp. Bot
      Journal of Experimental Botany
      Oxford University Press (UK )
      April 2013
      25 February 2013
      25 February 2013
      : 64
      : 7
      : 2081-2092
      23630329 3638828 10.1093/jxb/ert061
      © The Author(2) [2013].

      This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

      Pages: 12
      Research Paper


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