Photoperiod constraints on tree phenology, performance and migration in a warming world

Danielle A. Way, Rebecca A. Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


Increasing temperatures should facilitate the poleward movement of species distributions through a variety of processes, including increasing the growing season length. However, in temperate and boreal latitudes, temperature is not the only cue used by trees to determine seasonality, as changes in photoperiod provide a more consistent, reliable annual signal of seasonality than temperature. Here, we discuss how day length may limit the ability of tree species to respond to climate warming in situ, focusing on the implications of photoperiodic sensing for extending the growing season and affecting plant phenology and growth, as well as the potential role of photoperiod in controlling carbon uptake and water fluxes in forests. We also review whether there are patterns across plant functional types (based on successional strategy, xylem anatomy and leaf morphology) in their sensitivity to photoperiod that we can use to predict which species or groups might be more successful in migrating as the climate warms, or may be more successfully used for forestry and agriculture through assisted migration schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1725-1736
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Bud burst
  • Bud set
  • Carbon uptake
  • Chilling
  • Climate change
  • Day length
  • Dormancy
  • Photosynthesis
  • Senescence


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