Community EcologyGlobal warming shifts plant phenology

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As the climate warms we see the timing of annual processes in nature begin to shift. When does trillium flower in the spring? When do the leaves turn red in the fall? In general, we see spring phenologies moving earlier in the year, while fall phenologies are delayed, but not all species are moving at the same rate, causing mismatches between interacting species.

Project Summary

We are exploring how spring phenologies are shifting with the changing climate in the Holden Arboretum’s Bole Woods. In this citizen science project, volunteers have been monitoring spring leaf out in the forest canopy in relation to the emergence and flowering of spring ephemeral wildflowers in the forest understory since 2018. We use these data to understand how the shifting climate is driving changes in the timing of these events, and how mismatched shifts between the canopy and understory may change the forest wildflower community. We are also exploring how native and nonnative species differ in their capacity to shift phenologies in response to the changing climate. Using a combination of meta-analytical approaches and manipulative experiments, we are teasing apart how differences in phenological sensitivities may advantage nonnative species and shift plant community composition.


climate change, warming, phenology


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