Important role of precipitation in controlling a more uniform spring phenology in the Qinba Mountains, China

Jianhao Li, Jingyun Guan, Wangqiang Han, Ruikang Tian, Binbin Lu, Danlin Yu, Jianghua Zheng

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4 Scopus citations


Under global warming, the gradual pattern of spring phenology along elevation gradients (EG) has significantly changed. However, current knowledge on the phenomenon of a more uniform spring phenology is mainly focused on the effect of temperature and neglected precipitation. This study aimed to determine whether a more uniform spring phenology occurs along EG in the Qinba Mountains (QB) and explore the effect of precipitation on this pattern. We used Savitzky-Golay (S-G) filtering to extract the start of season (SOS) of the forest from the MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) during 2001-2018 and determined the main drivers of the SOS patterns along EG by partial correlation analyses. The SOS showed a more uniform trend along EG in the QB with a rate of 0.26 ± 0.01 days 100 m-1 per decade during 2001-2018, but there were differences around 2011. A delayed SOS at low elevations was possibly due to the reduced spring precipitation (SP) and spring temperature (ST) between 2001 and 2011. Additionally, an advanced SOS at high elevations may have been caused by the increased SP and reduced winter temperature (WT). These divergent trends contributed to a significant uniform trend of SOS with a rate of 0.85 ± 0.02 days 100 m-1 per decade. Since 2011, significantly higher SP (especially at low elevations) and rising ST advanced the SOS, and the SOS at lower altitudes was more advanced than at higher altitudes, resulting in greater SOS differences along EG (0.54 ± 0.02 days 100 m-1 per decade). The SP determined the direction of the uniform trend in SOS by controlling the SOS patterns at low elevations. A more uniform SOS may have important effects on local ecosystem stability. Our findings could provide a theoretical basis for establishing ecological restoration measures in areas experiencing similar trends.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1074405
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2023


  • elevation gradients
  • more uniform
  • precipitation
  • Qinba Mountains
  • spring phenology


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