Physiological mechanisms leading to early leaf senescence

Hot droughts are increasingly frequent worldwide, posing significant threats to forests, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Extensive research is underway to understand their far-reaching impacts. Of particular concern is the effect on the phenology of trees, which plays a crucial role in shaping ecosystems.

The influence of warmer temperatures on spring phenology is well-documented, leading to premature budburst and a shift in the growing season’s timing and duration. However, the effects of hot droughts on autumn phenology remain less explored.

Our objective is to unravel the drivers and consequences of leaf senescence and leaf scorching during hot droughts. Through meticulous analysis of European tree species in controlled and semi-controlled environments—including climate chambers, open-top chambers, and polytunnels—we aim to uncover the underlying mechanisms behind these phenomena and their impacts on subsequent seasons.

By shedding light on premature leaf senescence and leaf scorching, our research aims to address the widespread leaf coloring observed during hot droughts. Furthermore, the insights gained will refine existing climatic models, helping to pinpoint regions at high risk of such events.

Ultimately, our work seeks to deepen our understanding of the complex interactions between climate change and forest ecosystems, offering valuable insights for conservation and adaptation efforts.

For more information contact Maxwell Bergström et Charlotte Grossiord.