Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Changing weather patterns throwing ecosystems out of whack

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February 5, 2018 University of South Florida (USF Health) read full ScienceDaily article here

Day and night will soon align, marking the start of spring. But the timing of nature’s calendar is starting to fall out of sync. …a team of researchers …found that animal species are shifting the timing of their seasonal activities, also known as phenology, at different rates in response to changing seasonal temperatures and precipitation patterns.

As species’ lifecycles grow out of alignment, it can affect the functioning of ecosystems with potential impacts on human food supplies and diseases,” said lead author Jeremy Cohen, PhD, postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida Department of Integrative Biology. “We rely on honeybees to pollinate seasonal crops and migratory birds to return in the spring to eat insects that are crop pests and vectors of human diseases. If the timing of these and other seasonal events are off, ecosystems can malfunction with potentially adverse effects on humans.”

Dr. Cohen and his team found that cold-blooded species and those with small body sizes are breeding or aggregating earlier than warm-blooded or large-bodied species in spring. They come to this conclusion after reviewing thousands of records of phenological shifts dating back to the 1950s….

Jeremy M. Cohen, Marc J. Lajeunesse, Jason R. Rohr. A global synthesis of animal phenological responses to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0067-3

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