Quantitative comparison of flowering phenology traits among trees, perennial herbs, and annuals in a temperate plant community

Ai Nagahama, Tetsukazu Yahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Premise: Flowering phenology may differ among life forms due to the costs and benefits to attract pollinators, dependence on outcross pollination, and resource availability in their habitats. However, few studies have compared flowering phenology among life forms within a community and described flowering phenology at the individual, species, and community levels. Methods: We recorded flowering events for individuals of insect-pollinated trees, perennial herbs, and annuals from spring to summer of 2016 and 2017 in a warm-temperate forest in Japan. To compare phenological variables including mean and variance of flowering length, we standardized the number of observed individuals for each species and tested differences in variables, considering the phylogenetic relationships among species. Results: Total flowering length in trees (9–50 d) was significantly shorter than perennial herbs (27–113 d) or annuals (22–89 d), but mean flowering length was not significantly different among them. Flowering length variance was significantly smaller and intraspecies synchrony significantly higher in trees than in perennial herbs and annuals. At the community level, flowering times largely overlapped among successively flowering species, but interspecies synchrony was positive for all life forms. Conclusions: Shorter total flowering length and higher intraspecific synchrony in trees are explained by a modified pollinator attraction hypothesis suggesting that selection favors higher intraspecific synchrony because it promotes between-individual movement of pollinators. At the community level, positive interspecific synchrony for all life forms supports the hypothesis that flowering times tend to converge among species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1557
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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