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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #351923

Research Project: Systematics, Nomenclature, and Genetic Diversity of Priority Genera of Woody Landscape Plants

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Title: Patterns and predictors of fleshy fruit phenology at five international botanical gardens

Author
item Gallinat, Amanda - Boston University
item Primack, Richard - Boston University
item Willis, Charles - University Of Minnesota
item Nordt, Birgit - Freie University
item Stevens, Albert-dieter - Freie University
item Fahay, Robert - University Of Connecticut
item Whittemore, Alan
item Du, Yanjun - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Panchen, Zoe - Dalhousie University

Submitted to: American Journal of Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2018
Publication Date: 11/18/2018
Citation: Gallinat, A.S., Primack, R.B., Willis, C.G., Nordt, B., Stevens, A., Fahay, R., Whittemore, A.T., Du, Y., Panchen, Z.A. 2018. Patterns and predictors of fleshy fruit phenology at five international botanical gardens. American Journal of Botany. 105(11):1824-1834.

Interpretive Summary: Patterns and predictors of fleshy fruit phenology at five international botanical gardens The timing of fruit ripening and dispersal for trees and shrubs affects a wide variety of ecosystem processes and ecological interactions (particularly interactions involving birds and other wildlife that rely on fruit for food, and plants that rely on these animals to disperse their seed), and it affects how natural and artificial ecosystems respond to different weather conditions. There is, however, relatively little information available on the factors determining the timing of fruit ripening and fruit drop in different species. Botanical gardens, where many species grow together under uniform conditions, are an ideal place to study factors that determine fruiting time in different species of woody plants. Researchers from five botanical gardens on three continents across the northern temperate zone recorded dates of fruit maturation and fruit drop for 406 woody plant species in the springs of 2014 and 2015. The timing of fruit maturation and fruit drop is less dependent on local weather than other phases of the plants' annual cycle, but the order in which fruit ripened in different species was moderately consistent between years and among sites. This information will be used by professional ecologists, land managers, and breeders to predict how birds and other wildlife that rely on fruit for food, and plants that rely on these animals to disperse their seed, will respond to varying weather conditions from year to year. The data on timing of fruit ripening and fruit drop will be useful to horticulturists, since winter color provided by fruit is an important ornamental attribute of horticultural trees, shrubs, and vines.

Technical Abstract: The phenology of fruit ripening and dispersal for trees and shrubs affects a wide variety of ecosystem processes and ecological interactions (particularly interactions involving birds and other wildlife that rely on fruit for food, and plants that rely on these animals to disperse their seed), and it affects how natural and artificial ecosystems respond to different weather conditions. There is, however, relatively little information available on the factors determining fruit phenology in different species. Botanical gardens, where many species grow together under uniform conditions, are an ideal place to study factors that determine phenology in different species of woody plants. Researchers from five botanical gardens on three continents across the northern temperate zone recorded dates of fruit maturation and fruit drop for 406 woody plant species in the springs of 2014 and 2015. The timing of fruit maturation and fruit drop is less dependent on local weather than other phases of the plants' annual cycle, but the order in which fruit ripened in different species was moderately consistent between years and among sites. This information will be used by professional ecologists, land managers, and breeders to predict how birds and other wildlife that rely on fruit for food, and plants that rely on these animals to disperse their seed, will respond to varying weather conditions from year to year. The data on timing of fruit ripening and fruit drop will be useful to horticulturists, since winter color provided by fruit is an important ornamental attribute of horticultural trees, shrubs, and vines.