Pollen production of downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) along an altitudinal gradient in the European Alps

Surendra Ranpal, Susanne von Bargen, Stefanie Gilles, Daria Luschkova, Maria Landgraf, Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, Carmen Büttner, Athanasios Damialis, Susanne Jochner-Oette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


High-altitude environments are highly susceptible to the effects of climate change. Thus, it is crucial to examine and understand the behaviour of specific plant traits along altitudinal gradients, which offer a real-life laboratory for analysing future impacts of climate change. The available information on how pollen production varies at different altitudes in mountainous areas is limited. In this study, we investigated pollen production of 17 birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) individuals along an altitudinal gradient in the European Alps. We sampled catkins at nine locations in the years 2020–2021 and monitored air temperatures. We investigated how birch pollen, flowers and inflorescences are produced in relation to thermal factors at various elevations. We found that mean pollen production of Betula pubescens Ehrh. varied between 0.4 and 8.3 million pollen grains per catkin. We did not observe any significant relationships between the studied reproductive metrics and altitude. However, minimum temperature of the previous summer was found to be significantly correlated to pollen (rs = 0.504, p = 0.039), flower (rs = 0.613, p = 0.009) and catkin (rs = 0.642, p = 0.005) production per volume unit of crown. Therefore, we suggest that temperature variability even at such small scales is very important for studying the response related to pollen production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1139
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Air temperature
  • Elevation
  • Mountain-valley gradient
  • Plant ecology
  • Reproduction
  • Thermal factors


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