Projected warming disrupts the synchrony of riparian seed dispersal and snowmelt streamflow

New Phytologist
By: , and 



• Globally, spring phenology and abiotic processes are shifting earlier with warming. Differences in the magnitudes of these shifts may decouple the timing of plant resource requirements from resource availability. In riparian forests across the northern hemisphere, warming could decouple seed dispersal from snowmelt peak streamflow, thus reducing moisture and safe-sites for dominant tree recruitment.

• We combined field observations with climate, hydrology, and phenology models to simulate future change in synchrony of seed dispersal and snowmelt peaks in the upper South Platte River Basin, Colorado, for three Salicaceae species that dominate western USA riparian forests.

• Chilling requirements for overcoming winter endodormancy were strongest in Salix exigua, moderately supported for Populus deltoides, and indiscernible in Salix amygdaloides. Ensemble mean projected warming of 3.5ºC shifted snowmelt peaks 10-19 d earlier relative to S. exigua and P. deltoides dispersal, because decreased winter chilling combined with increased spring forcing limited change in their dispersal phenology. In contrast, warming shifted both snowmelt peaks and S. amygdaloides dispersal 21 d earlier, maintaining their synchrony.

• Decoupling of snowmelt from seed dispersal for Salicaceae with strong chilling requirements is likely to reduce resources critical for recruitment of these foundational riparian forests, although the magnitude of future decoupling remains uncertain.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Projected warming disrupts the synchrony of riparian seed dispersal and snowmelt streamflow
Series title New Phytologist
DOI 10.1111/nph.16191
Volume 225
Issue 2
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 20 p.
First page 693
Last page 712
Country United States
State Colorado
Google Analytics Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details