Climate change and earlier springs

How are plants responding around the world?

Climate change is shifting the timing of many seasonal events in our natural world. When do the roses bloom in your garden? When will you see your first hummingbird? When will the fall color peak at the Arboretum? The study of these seasonal events is known as phenology. But, species vary in their capacity to shift their timing in relation to climate conditions, making some species more vulnerable to declines than others. Holden scientist, Katie Stuble, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh and Kent State researchers, has been compiling data from around the world to understand global patterns of responses to climate change, and how they might vary across various plants.

Here’s a brief description of that work, newly published in the scientific journal Global Change Biology:

Synthesizing data from seventy warming manipulations from around the world, this team explores the impacts of warming on plant phenology across a range of environments and plant types. Plants are advancing early-season phenophases (bud break, leaf-out, and flowering) in response to warming, and do so consistently across latitude, elevation, and habitat types. However, the effect of warming on nonnative annual plants is two times larger than the effect of warming on native perennial plants. The study also identifies numerous gaps in the experimental warming literature that limit our ability to fully understand the effects of warming on phenological shifts, and suggest critical areas for future research.

Read the complete article at

Stuble KL, LD Bennion, SE Kuebbing (2021) Plant phenological responses to experimental warming – A synthesis. Global Change Biology 27(17): 4110-4124. 

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