EGU24-10161, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Oral | Tuesday, 16 Apr, 15:25–15:35 (CEST)
Room 2.23

Warming-induced phenological mismatch between trees and shrubs explains high-elevation forest expansion

Eryuan Liang1, Xiaoxia Li1,2, J. Julio Camarero3, Sergio Rossi2, Jingtian Zhang1, Haifeng Zhu1, Yongshuo H. Fu4, Jian Sun1, Tao Wang1, Shilong Piao1, and Josep Peñuelas5,6
Eryuan Liang et al.
  • 1Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (
  • 2Laboratoire sur les écosystèmes terrestres boréaux, Département des Sciences Fondamentales, Universitédu Québec à Chicoutimi. Canada (
  • 3Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE-CSIC), Zaragoza (
  • 4College of Water Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China (
  • 5CREAF, Cerdanyola del Valles, Barcelona, Spain (
  • 6CSIC, Global Ecology Unit CREAF-CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, Spain (

 Despite the importance of species interaction in modulating the range shifts of plants, little is known about the responses of coexisting life forms to a warmer climate. Here, we combine long-term monitoring of cambial phenology in sympatric trees and shrubs at two treelines of the Tibetan Plateau, with a meta-analysis of ring-width series from 344 shrubs and 575 trees paired across 11 alpine treelines in the Northern Hemisphere. Under a spring warming of + 1°C, xylem resumption advances by 2–4 days in trees, but delays by 3–8 days in shrubs. The divergent phenological response to warming was due to shrubs being 3.2 times more sensitive than trees to chilling accumulation. Warmer winters increased the thermal requirement for cambial reactivation in shrubs, leading to a delayed response to warmer springs. Our meta-analysis confirmed such a mechanism across continental scales. The warming-induced phenological mismatch may give a competitive advantage to trees over shrubs, which would provide a new explanation for increasing alpine treeline shifts under the context of climate change.

How to cite: Liang, E., Li, X., Camarero, J. J., Rossi, S., Zhang, J., Zhu, H., Fu, Y. H., Sun, J., Wang, T., Piao, S., and Peñuelas, J.: Warming-induced phenological mismatch between trees and shrubs explains high-elevation forest expansion, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-10161,, 2024.