The variables affecting spore phenology have been poorly studied in contrast with the abundant literature on leaf phenology. This paper deals with the influence of altitude and canopy cover on spore maturation and release of Culcita macrocarpa and Woodwardia radicans in the island of São Miguel, Azores. The study was conducted during one sporing season at three altitudes (400, 600, and 800 m). In both species spore maturation occurred in autumn and may be controlled by the previous accumulation of photosynthates. Spores were not released until late winter owing to a requirement for dry weather conditions. Dispersal took place later at higher altitude, due to lower temperature and higher humidity. This gradual liberation of spores along an altitudinal gradient is important for the endemic Azores bullfinch Pyrrhula murina (a bird that feeds on spores in winter), providing food over an extended period.
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