Warming shortens flowering seasons of tundra plant communities

Published by Stephanie Mayer on

Advancing phenology is one of the most visible effects of climate change on plant communities, and has been especially pronounced in temperature-limited tundra ecosystems. However, phenological responses have been shown to differ greatly between species, with some species shifting phenology more than others. We analysed a database of 42,689 tundra plant phenological observations to show that warmer temperatures are leading to a contraction of community-level flowering seasons in tundra ecosystems due to a greater advancement in the flowering times of late-flowering species than early-flowering species. Shorter flowering seasons with a changing climate have the potential to alter trophic interactions in tundra ecosystems. Interestingly, these findings differ from those of warmer ecosystems, where early-flowering species have been found to be more sensitive to temperature change, suggesting that community-level phenological responses to warming can vary greatly between biomes.