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Experimental warming differentially affects vegetative and reproductive phenology of tundra plants

June 11, 2021

Rapid climate warming is altering Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystem structure and function, including shifts in plant phenology. While the advancement of green up and flowering are well-documented, it remains unclear whether all phenophases, particularly those later in the season, will shift in unison or respond divergently to warming. Here, we present the largest synthesis to our knowledge of experimental warming effects on tundra plant phenology from the International Tundra Experiment. We examine the effect of warming on a suite of season-wide plant phenophases. Results challenge the expectation that all phenophases will advance in unison to warming. Instead, we find that experimental warming caused: (1) larger phenological shifts in reproductive versus vegetative phenophases and (2) advanced reproductive phenophases and green up but delayed leaf senescence which translated to a lengthening of the growing season by approximately 3%. Patterns were consistent across sites, plant species and over time. The advancement of reproductive seasons and lengthening of growing seasons may have significant consequences for trophic interactions and ecosystem function across the tundra.

Publication Year 2021
Title Experimental warming differentially affects vegetative and reproductive phenology of tundra plants
DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-23841-2
Authors Courtney G. Collins, Sarah Claire Elmendorf, Robert D. Hollister, Greg Henry, Karin Clark, Anne Bjorkman, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Janet S. Prevéy, Isabel Ashton, Jakob J. Assmann, Juha Alatalo, Michele Carbognani, Chelsea Chisholm, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Forester Chiara, Ingibjorg Svala Jonsdottir, Kari Klanderud, Christopher Kopp, Carolyn Livensperger, Marguerite Mauritz, Jeremy May, Ulf Molau, Steven F. Oberbaeur, Emily Ogburn, Zoe Panchen, Alessandro Petraglia, Eric Post, Christian Rixen, Heidi Rodenhizer, Ted Schuur, Phillip Semenchuk, Jane G. Smith, Heidi Steltzer, Ørjan Totland, Marilyn Walker, Jeffrey Welker, Katharine N. Suding
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Communications
Index ID 70221874
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center