The Impacts of Climate Change on Phenology: A Synthesis and Path Forward for Adaptive Management in the Pacific Northwest

Wildflowers in Washington —Alan Cressler , 2018

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Phenology, or the timing of the annual cycles of plants and animals, is extremely sensitive to changes in climate. We know that plants and animals may adjust the timing of certain phenological events, such as tree flowering or migration, based on changes in weather. However, it’s important that we also understand how the timing of phenological events is changing over longer time frames, as climate conditions change.

While some species appear to be adjusting to the increase in unseasonal temperatures, drought, and extreme storms that have come with climate change, not all species are responding at the same speed or in the same ways. This can disrupt the manner in which species interact and the way that ecosystems function overall. For example, plants may bloom before butterflies emerge to pollinate them, or caterpillars may emerge before migratory birds arrive to feed them to their young.

For natural resource managers, understanding how changing climate conditions are impacting plant and animal phenology is essential for making effective adaptive management decisions. This project will support management needs in the Pacific Northwest by synthesizing and communicating what we know about the impacts of climate change on phenology in the region, as well as identifying what gaps exist in the research and what tools are available to support management planning. The resulting products will be user-friendly and relevant to a wide range of natural resource managers seeking applied solutions and adaptation options for a range of issues, including land management, wildlife and habitat conservation, and recreation. 

Lead Investigator:
Jherime Kellermann , Oregon Institute of Technology

Other Investigator(s):

Project Contact:
Jherime Kellermann, Jherime.Kellermann@oit.edu

State: Regionwide

Funding Year: FY 2017

Project Status: In Progress

Topic Category: Decision Support Tools, Soil & Vegetation, Vulnerability & Adaptation

Science Agenda Theme: Communication of Science Findings, Response of Biological Systems to Climate Change

Discipline: Biology

Partners:

This project will support management needs in the Pacific Northwest by synthesizing and communicating what we know about the impacts of climate change on phenology in the region, as well as identifying what gaps exist in the research and what tools are available to support management planning.