USA National Phenology Network

USA-NPN Technical Report Series 2012

Published date May 16, 2016

Phenology as a bio-indicator of climate change impacts on people and ecosystems: towards an integrated national assessment approach

  • States phenology the study of the timing seasonal life cycle events in plants and animals (e.g., timing of leafout, blooming, hibernation, migration), is a well-recognized indicator of climate variability and change
  • Conducts a review of the recent phenology literature to document regional variation in species’ response to changes in climate and the environment
  • Reviews 175 studies and selects 64 studies that covered a variety of taxonomic groups, spanned a range of scales, and that analyzed the relationship between phenological observations and climatic variables
  • Reports this peer-reviewed information in a series of short, self-contained regional syntheses that will be periodically updated and used as communication pieces by the USA National Phenology Network
  • Introduces a new bioclimatic model for evaluating regional to continental trends in the timing of the onset of spring
  • Finds a growing body of research focused on examining trophic mismatch, a phenomenon that can result from differential phenological responses to climate or other cues
  • States that—though few studies documented the specific consequences of asynchronous species interactions—most predicted population declines, local extirpations, and the emergence of novel biotic interactions
  • Finds most studies documented an advance in timing of springtime phenological events across species in response to climate warming