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Dr. Constantin Zohner


Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Department Biologie I
Systematische Botanik und Mykologie
AG Prof. Dr. Renner
Menzinger Straße 67
80638 München


Fon:+49 89 17861-285
Fax:+49 89 172638
Room:229 b, second floor



Ph.D., Biology, University of Munich (LMU)

Research interests

  • Plant phenology in the context of climate change
  • Evolution of the genus Limonium

Current work

I am assessing phenological changes in plant communities under climate change by integrating data from in situ observations, herbarium specimens, and experiments. To study the biogeographic and phylogenetic signals in phenology I am gathering observational data on several hundred north temperate woody plants grown together in common gardens. Such data is essential for a better understanding of the evolutionary forces underlying plant’s growth strategies and allows forecasting phenological changes in floristically changed communities under climate warming. Controlled experiments are conducted to study the external signals – such as temperature, light availability, day length, and humidity – that trigger phenological responses.

Obtaining long-term phenological data
A widely used approach for inferring species’ phenological responses to climate change is to obtain long-term phenological data. However, observational data on flushing times are limited and until now based on a small sample of species. To obtain longer time series, I have used herbarium specimens (so far only used to infer past flowering times), which for suitable species yield data as far back as 140 years, to the first temperature records for the Munich area (Zohner & Renner, in review). The “herbarium method” opens up the possibility to study species’ phenological behavior in their native ranges and within-species phenological variations along latitudinal gradients, at least for species frequently collected.

Acer pseudo­platanus

Prinsepia sinensis

Forsythia ovata

Magnolia tripetala

From left: Bud of Acer pseudoplatanus in November, Prinsepia sinensis is the earliest-flushing woody species in the Munich Botanical Garden, Forsythia ovata tends to leaf out in the middle of spring, Magnolia tripetala is one of the latest-flushing species in the Munich Botanical Garden.

Additional research: Evolution of the genus Limonium

The genus Limonium (Plumbaginaceae) consists of 200 - 350 species, most of them adapted to saline, coastal environments. Most species are salt-tolerant and inhabit saline areas but are outcompeted in other habitats, apparently because of their slow growth. Limonium is a cosmopolitan genus with a main distribution area in the Mediterranean basin, West Africa and the Macaronesian Islands. Twenty-three species of Limonium are found on the Canary Islands of which 19 are strictly endemic to one or more of these islands.


Zohner C.M., Benito B.M., Fridley J.D., Svenning J.-C., Renner S.S. (2017): Spring predictability explains different leaf-out strategies in the Northern Hemisphere woody floras. Ecology letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12746

Zohner C.M., Benito B.M., Svenning J.-C., Renner S.S. (2016): Day length unlikely to constrain climate-driven shifts in leaf-out times of northern woody plants. Nature Climate Change 6, 1120 – 1123.

Muffler L., Beierkuhnlein C., Aas G., Jentsch A., Schweiger A.H., Zohner C.M., Kreyling J. (2016): Distribution ranges and spring phenology explain late frost sensitivity of 170 woody plants from the Northern hemisphere. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25, 1061 – 1071.

Zohner C.M., Renner S.S. (2015): Perception of photoperiod in individual buds of mature trees regulates leaf-out. New Phytologist 208(4): 1023 – 1030.

Zohner C.M., Renner S.S. (2014): Common garden comparison of the leaf-out phenology of woody species from different native climates, combined with herbarium records, forecasts long-term change. Ecology Letters 17: 1016 – 1025.

Last update: 2017-07-27