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Photoperiod controls vegetation phenology across Africa

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number391
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/10/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Communications Biology
Issue number1
Number of pages13
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Vegetation phenology is driven by environmental factors such as photoperiod, precipitation, temperature, insolation, and nutrient availability. However, across Africa, there’s ambiguity about these drivers, which can lead to uncertainty in the predictions of global warming impacts on terrestrial ecosystems and their representation in dynamic vegetation models. Using satellite data, we undertook a systematic analysis of the relationship between phenological parameters and these drivers. The analysis across different regions consistently revealed photoperiod as the dominant factor controlling the onset and end of vegetation growing season. Moreover, the results suggest that not one, but a combination of drivers control phenological events. Consequently, to enhance our predictions of climate change impacts, the role of photoperiod should be incorporated into vegetation-climate and ecosystem modelling. Furthermore, it is necessary to define clearly the responses of vegetation to interactions between a consistent photoperiod cue and inter-annual variation in other drivers, especially under a changing climate.