Divergence of reproductive phenology under climate warming


Because the flowering and fruiting phenology of plants is sensitive to environmental cues such as temperature and moisture, climate change is likely to alter community-level patterns of reproductive phenology. Here we report a previously unreported phenomenon: experimental warming advanced flowering and fruiting phenology for species that began to flower before the peak of summer heat but delayed reproduction in species that started flowering after the peak temperature in a tallgrass prairie in North America. The warming-induced divergence of flowering and fruiting toward the two ends of the growing season resulted in a gap in the staggered progression of flowering and fruiting in the community during the middle of the season. A double precipitation treatment did not significantly affect flowering and fruiting phenology. Variation among species in the direction and magnitude of their response to warming caused compression and expansion of the reproductive periods of different species, changed the amount of overlap between the reproductive phases, and created possibilities for an altered selective environment to reshape communities in a future warmed world.


Publication Sherry, R. A., X. Zhou, S. Gu, J. A. Amone III, D. S. Schimel, P. S. Verburg, L. L. Wallace, and Y. Q. Luo. 2007. Divergence of reproductive phenology under climate warming. PNAS 104:198-202.

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