Impacts of climate change on the phenology of pollen release of birch Betula pubescens and consequences for human health

Phenology, pollen, birch

Betula pubescens and B. pendula are dominant allergic tree species across Europe. Other Betulaceae species such as Corylus avellana and Alnus glutinosa may cause similar allergic reactions. These can have a ‘priming effect’ on those allergic to Betula pollen as they flower earlier, thus lengthening the period over which allergy sufferers are exposed. The aim of this study is to look at the phenology of pollen release of these three species to establish if there is a direct correlation with spring temperature, flowering and pollen release. The study will also examine long range transport of pollen across Europe to determine if it is having a direct impact on the length of the pollen season in Ireland


Donnelly, A., Caffarra, A., Diskin, E., Pletsers, A., Proctor, H., Kelleher, C.T., Stirnemann, R., O’Neill, B., O’Halloran, J., Jones, M., Peñuelas, J. and Sparks, T. (2009 Accepted) Climate warming results in phenotypic and evolutionary changes in spring events – A mini-review (peer reviewed)

Proctor, H. and Donnelly A. Ireland’s Phenology Network 2009 EPA Report

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