Research Topic

Understanding Responses of Forest Foliage Phenology in Autumn to Environmental Stressors

About this Research Topic

Significant forest phenological shifts have been reported worldwide, as an important bio-indicator of climate change. However, most studies focus on plants leading out and flowering in spring, while phenology in autumn (i.e. leaf coloration and leaf drop) is still understudied. Yet forest phenology in autumn has substantial impacts on forest community and ecosystem dynamics and processes, including carbon and nutrient cycling, and important biological interactions with animal activities. The drivers of autumn phenology are still poorly known. Beyond the influence of declining photoperiod and temperature along summer and autumn, leaf senescence (i.e. leaf coloration and leaf drop) are known to be sensitive to extreme weather events (e.g. drought and heat stress), the frequency and intensity of which are increasing in the context of global climate change. To date, the relative roles of seasonal climate variations and extreme weather events in determining leaf senescence remains unknown, while diversity in responses/sensitivities to the seasonal variations and extreme events from different tree species and communities exists.

Previous research and empirical experiences suggested the critical role of extreme weather events experiences in affecting the timing of forest leaf coloration and leaf fall, but we still know too little about the specific effect from each important environmental stressor on forest autumn phenology and the diversity of phenological sensitivities from different forest communities and species. The goal of this research topic is to identify the environmental drivers that affect forest leaf phenology in autumn, especially the weather extremes, and the diversity of phenological responses among different forest tree species and communities. Phenology models (statistical and mechanistic models) that include environmental stressors can examine the associations. Experimental studies that manipulate environmental conditions can test the phenological responses to extreme weather events. Responses to the interactions between weather and climatic conditions can be important, but counter-intuitive. In addition, different forest tree species and communities may show divergent responses to the same environmental stressor, while same species and communities may have different phenological sensitivities at different locations.

This Research Topic aims to gather innovative research articles in understanding the abiotic control of forest foliage phenology in autumn and the diversity of responses from forest communities and species, especially to the environmental stressors. Phenology data sources include, and are not limited to, ground observation, experiments, and remote sensing approaches. More specifically, we welcome reviews, perspectives and original research focusing on the following topics:
• Identification of the environmental drivers on forest phenology in autumn, especially the environmental stressors (e.g. drought, heat, heavy rainfall, etc.) and/or the interactions among them and with seasonal variations of climate.
• Mechanistic understanding of forest autumn phenology in responding to extreme weather events.
• Diverse autumn phenological responses/sensitivities to environmental drivers from forest species and communities.
• Variation in autumn phenological responses/sensitivities to environmental drivers among different locations.
• Phenology modelling sand predicting under future climate change projections.


Keywords: Leaf Coloration, Senescence, Extreme Weather, Drought, Climate Change


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Significant forest phenological shifts have been reported worldwide, as an important bio-indicator of climate change. However, most studies focus on plants leading out and flowering in spring, while phenology in autumn (i.e. leaf coloration and leaf drop) is still understudied. Yet forest phenology in autumn has substantial impacts on forest community and ecosystem dynamics and processes, including carbon and nutrient cycling, and important biological interactions with animal activities. The drivers of autumn phenology are still poorly known. Beyond the influence of declining photoperiod and temperature along summer and autumn, leaf senescence (i.e. leaf coloration and leaf drop) are known to be sensitive to extreme weather events (e.g. drought and heat stress), the frequency and intensity of which are increasing in the context of global climate change. To date, the relative roles of seasonal climate variations and extreme weather events in determining leaf senescence remains unknown, while diversity in responses/sensitivities to the seasonal variations and extreme events from different tree species and communities exists.

Previous research and empirical experiences suggested the critical role of extreme weather events experiences in affecting the timing of forest leaf coloration and leaf fall, but we still know too little about the specific effect from each important environmental stressor on forest autumn phenology and the diversity of phenological sensitivities from different forest communities and species. The goal of this research topic is to identify the environmental drivers that affect forest leaf phenology in autumn, especially the weather extremes, and the diversity of phenological responses among different forest tree species and communities. Phenology models (statistical and mechanistic models) that include environmental stressors can examine the associations. Experimental studies that manipulate environmental conditions can test the phenological responses to extreme weather events. Responses to the interactions between weather and climatic conditions can be important, but counter-intuitive. In addition, different forest tree species and communities may show divergent responses to the same environmental stressor, while same species and communities may have different phenological sensitivities at different locations.

This Research Topic aims to gather innovative research articles in understanding the abiotic control of forest foliage phenology in autumn and the diversity of responses from forest communities and species, especially to the environmental stressors. Phenology data sources include, and are not limited to, ground observation, experiments, and remote sensing approaches. More specifically, we welcome reviews, perspectives and original research focusing on the following topics:
• Identification of the environmental drivers on forest phenology in autumn, especially the environmental stressors (e.g. drought, heat, heavy rainfall, etc.) and/or the interactions among them and with seasonal variations of climate.
• Mechanistic understanding of forest autumn phenology in responding to extreme weather events.
• Diverse autumn phenological responses/sensitivities to environmental drivers from forest species and communities.
• Variation in autumn phenological responses/sensitivities to environmental drivers among different locations.
• Phenology modelling sand predicting under future climate change projections.


Keywords: Leaf Coloration, Senescence, Extreme Weather, Drought, Climate Change


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

11 October 2020 Abstract
08 February 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

11 October 2020 Abstract
08 February 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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