Phenological sensitivity to climate across taxa and trophic levels

S. J. Thackeray, P. A. Henrys, D. Hemming, J. R. Bell, M. S. Botham, S. Burthe, P. Helaouet, D. G. Johns, I. D. Jones, D. I. Leech, E. B. Mackay, D. Massimino, S. Atkinson, P. J. Bacon, T. M. Brereton, L. Carvalho, T. H. Clutton-Brock, C. Duck, M. Edwards, J. M. ElliottS. J. G. Hall, R. Harrington, J. W. Pearce-Higgins, T. T. Høye, L. E. B. Kruuk, J. M. Pemberton, Tim H. Sparks, P. M. Thompson, I. White, I. J. Winfield, S. Wanless

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    616 Citations (Scopus)


    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).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)241-245
    Early online date29 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2016

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    • Phenology
    • Food webs


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