Using dormant twigs to investigate climate change (Viewpoint)

Climate change has altered the spring phenology of many temperate plants, with important ecological consequences. However, studies of phenological shifts are generally restricted to field observations or remote-sensing methods. Twig experiments—which involve clipping dormant twigs of trees, shrubs and vines and bringing them into laboratory conditions for phenological observations—offer an underutilized opportunity to disentangle the drivers of plant phenology.

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Primack et al. explore the power of twig experiments examining leaf-out, frost sensitivity, flowering and leaf senescence for use in ecology, climate change biology, horticulture and public health, and consider the challenges unique to this method.

This article appears in the special issue Plants and Climate Change.