Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Biometeorol. 2017 Jul;61(7):1347-1358. doi: 10.1007/s00484-017-1312-6. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

Phenological patterns of flowering across biogeographical regions of Europe.

Author information

Department of Plant Systematics, Ecology and Theoretical Biology, Eötvös Loránd University, 1117, Budapest, Hungary.
Institute of Data Analysis and Process Design, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, 8401, Winterthur, Switzerland.
Institute of Statistics and Mathematical Methods in Economics, Vienna University of Technology, 1040, Vienna, Austria.
Centre for Climate Change, University Rovira i Virgili, 43500, Tortosa, Spain.
Voke Branch of the Lithuanian Research, Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, 02232, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Statistics Austria, 1110, Vienna, Austria.
Climate Service Centre, Finnish Meteorological Institute, 00101, Helsinki, Finnland.
Sector for Applied Meteorology, Federal Hydrometeorological Institute of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 71000, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, 1010, Riga, Latvia.
Natural Resources and Bioproduction, Natural Resources Institute Finland, 00790, Helsinki, Finland.
Institute of Ecology and Earth Science, University of Tartu, 51014, Tartu, Estonia.
Meteorological Research and Development Division, Meteorological and Hydrological Service, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia.
Agrometeorological Department, Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, 1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, French National Museum of Natural History, 75231, Paris, France.
Institute of Ecology and Botany, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, 2163, Vácrátót, Hungary.


Long-term changes of plant phenological phases determined by complex interactions of environmental factors are in the focus of recent climate impact research. There is a lack of studies on the comparison of biogeographical regions in Europe in terms of plant responses to climate. We examined the flowering phenology of plant species to identify the spatio-temporal patterns in their responses to environmental variables over the period 1970-2010. Data were collected from 12 countries along a 3000-km-long, North-South transect from northern to eastern Central Europe.Biogeographical regions of Europe were covered from Finland to Macedonia. Robust statistical methods were used to determine the most influential factors driving the changes of the beginning of flowering dates. Significant species-specific advancements in plant flowering onsets within the Continental (3 to 8.3 days), Alpine (2 to 3.8 days) and by highest magnitude in the Boreal biogeographical regions (2.2 to 9.6 days per decades) were found, while less pronounced responses were detected in the Pannonian and Mediterranean regions. While most of the other studies only use mean temperature in the models, we show that also the distribution of minimum and maximum temperatures are reasonable to consider as explanatory variable. Not just local (e.g. temperature) but large scale (e.g. North Atlantic Oscillation) climate factors, as well as altitude and latitude play significant role in the timing of flowering across biogeographical regions of Europe. Our analysis gave evidences that species show a delay in the timing of flowering with an increase in latitude (between the geographical coordinates of 40.9 and 67.9), and an advance with changing climate. The woody species (black locust and small-leaved lime) showed stronger advancements in their timing of flowering than the herbaceous species (dandelion, lily of the valley). In later decades (1991-2010), more pronounced phenological change was detected than during the earlier years (1970-1990), which indicates the increased influence of human induced higher spring temperatures in the late twentieth century.


Beginning of flowering; Biogeographical regions; Climate change; Europe; Robust regression; Shifting trend

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center