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Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change

Wolkovich, E. M.; Cook, B. I.; Allen, J. M.; Crimmins, T. M.; Betancourt, J. L.; Travers, S. E.; Pau, S.; Regetz, J.; Davies, T. J. and Kraft, N. J. B., et al. (2012) In Nature 485(7399). p.494-497
Abstract
Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change(1,2). For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing(3-5). We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with... (More)
Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change(1,2). For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing(3-5). We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations. For species that were common to both study types, the experimental results did not match the observational data in sign or magnitude. The observational data also showed that species that flower earliest in the spring have the highest temperature sensitivities, but this trend was not reflected in the experimental data. These significant mismatches seem to be unrelated to the study length or to the degree of manipulated warming in experiments. The discrepancy between experiments and observations, however, could arise from complex interactions among multiple drivers in the observational data, or it could arise from remediable artefacts in the experiments that result in lower irradiance and drier soils, thus dampening the phenological responses to manipulated warming. Our results introduce uncertainty into ecosystem models that are informed solely by experiments and suggest that responses to climate change that are predicted using such models should be re-evaluated. (Less)
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organization
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publication status
published
subject
in
Nature
volume
485
issue
7399
pages
494 - 497
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • wos:000304344500041
  • scopus:84861421708
ISSN
0028-0836
DOI
10.1038/nature11014
project
BECC
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
7f23f9f4-daf5-45d8-841d-8afc051a123b (old id 2812926)
date added to LUP
2012-06-25 09:59:16
date last changed
2017-11-19 03:14:35
@article{7f23f9f4-daf5-45d8-841d-8afc051a123b,
  abstract     = {Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change(1,2). For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing(3-5). We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations. For species that were common to both study types, the experimental results did not match the observational data in sign or magnitude. The observational data also showed that species that flower earliest in the spring have the highest temperature sensitivities, but this trend was not reflected in the experimental data. These significant mismatches seem to be unrelated to the study length or to the degree of manipulated warming in experiments. The discrepancy between experiments and observations, however, could arise from complex interactions among multiple drivers in the observational data, or it could arise from remediable artefacts in the experiments that result in lower irradiance and drier soils, thus dampening the phenological responses to manipulated warming. Our results introduce uncertainty into ecosystem models that are informed solely by experiments and suggest that responses to climate change that are predicted using such models should be re-evaluated.},
  author       = {Wolkovich, E. M. and Cook, B. I. and Allen, J. M. and Crimmins, T. M. and Betancourt, J. L. and Travers, S. E. and Pau, S. and Regetz, J. and Davies, T. J. and Kraft, N. J. B. and Ault, T. R. and Bolmgren, Kjell and Mazer, S. J. and McCabe, G. J. and McGill, B. J. and Parmesan, C. and Salamin, N. and Schwartz, M. D. and Cleland, E. E.},
  issn         = {0028-0836},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7399},
  pages        = {494--497},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature},
  title        = {Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11014},
  volume       = {485},
  year         = {2012},
}