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    Background. Experiencing an adequate amount of cold temperatures over winter is necessary for many temperate tree species to break dormancy and flower in spring. Thus, changes in winter and spring temperatures associated with climate change may influence when trees break dormancy and flower in the future. There have been several experimental studies that have quantified the effectiveness of cold temperatures for chilling requirements for vegetative budburst of temperate trees; however, there are few experimental studies addressing the chilling requirements for reproductive budburst of trees, as it is difficult to place reproductively mature trees in temperature-controlled environments.
    Methods. To identify how changing temperatures associated with climate change may impact reproductive phenology, we completed a temperature-controlled growth chamber experiment using cuttings of reproductive branches of red alder (Alnus rubra), one of the most widespread hardwood tree species of the Pacific Northwest, USA. The purpose of this study was to examine how colder (4°C) and warmer (9°C) winter temperature regimes influenced the timing of reproductive budburst of red alder cuttings in spring. We also compared the date of budburst of cuttings to that of branches from intact trees.
    Results. We found that cuttings flowered earlier after pretreatment with a 4°C winter temperature regime than after a 9°C winter temperature regime. We found no significant differences between the timing of male budburst of cuttings exposed to ambient conditions compared to male budburst of branches from intact trees. We used our experimental data to estimate a "possibility-line" that shows the accumulated chilling and forcing temperatures necessary prior to reproductive budburst of red alder.
    Discussion. This study provides a preliminary indication that warmer winters with climate change may not be as effective as colder winters for satisfying chilling temperature requirements of a Northwest hardwood tree species.

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    Prevéy, Janet S.; Harrington, Constance A. 2018. Effectiveness of winter temperatures for satisfying chilling requirements for reproductive budburst of red alder (Alnus rubra). PeerJ. 6(13): e5221-.


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    Climate change, flowering, phenology.

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