Phenological sensitivity to climate across taxa and trophic levels


Thackeray SJ, Henrys PA, Hemming D, Bell JR, Botham MS, Burthe S, Helaouet P, Johns DG, Jones ID, Leech DI, Mackay EB, Massimino D, Atkinson S, Bacon PJ & Brereton TM (2016) Phenological sensitivity to climate across taxa and trophic levels. Nature, 535 (7611), pp. 241-245.

Differences in phenological responses to climate change among species can desynchronise ecological interactions and thereby threaten ecosystem function. To assess these threats, we must quantify the relative impact of climate change on species at different trophic levels. Here, we apply a Climate Sensitivity Profile approach to 10,003 terrestrial and aquatic phenological data sets, spatially matched to temperature and precipitation data, to quantify variation in climate sensitivity. The direction, magnitude and timing of climate sensitivity varied markedly among organisms within taxonomic and trophic groups. Despite this variability, we detected systematic variation in the direction and magnitude of phenological climate sensitivity. Secondary consumers showed consistently lower climate sensitivity than other groups. We used mid-century climate change projections to estimate that the timing of phenological events could change more for primary consumers than for species in other trophic levels (6.2 versus 2.5–2.9 days earlier on average), with substantial taxonomic variation (1.1–14.8 days earlier on average).


Additional co-authors: Laurence Carvalho, Tim H Clutton-Brock, Callan Duck, Martin Edwards, J. Malcolm Elliott, Stephen J G Hall, Richard Harrington, James W Pearce-Higgins, Toke T Høye, Loeske E B Kruuk, Josephine M Pemberton, Tim H Sparks, Paul M Thompson, Ian White, Ian J Winfield & Sarah Wanless

Nature: Volume 535, Issue 7611

FundersCentre for Ecology & Hydrology
Publication date31/07/2016
Publication date online29/06/2016
Date accepted by journal26/05/2016
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC