Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Differences in spatial versus temporal reaction norms for spring and autumn phenological events

Delgado, Maria del Mar; Roslin, Tomas; Tikhonov, Gleb; Meyke, Evgeniy; Lo, Coong; Gurarie, Eliezer; Abadonova, Marina; Abduraimov, Ozodbek; Adrianova, Olga; Akimova, Tatiana; Akkiev, Muzhigit; Ananin, Aleksandr; Andreeva, Elena; Andriychuk, Natalia; Antipin, Maxim; Arzamascev, Konstantin; Babina, Svetlana; Babushkin, Miroslav; Bakin, Oleg; Barabancova, Anna;
Show more authors


For species to stay temporally tuned to their environment, they use cues such as the accumulation of degree-days. The relationships between the timing of a phenological event in a population and its environmental cue can be described by a population-level reaction norm. Variation in reaction norms along environmental gradients may either intensify the environmental effects on timing (cogradient variation) or attenuate the effects (countergradient variation). To resolve spatial and seasonal variation in species' response, we use a unique dataset of 91 taxa and 178 phenological events observed across a network of 472 monitoring sites, spread across the nations of the former Soviet Union. We show that compared to local rates of advancement of phenological events with the advancement of temperature-related cues (i.e., variation within site over years), spatial variation in reaction norms tend to accentuate responses in spring (cogradient variation) and attenuate them in autumn (countergradient variation). As a result, among-population variation in the timing of events is greater in spring and less in autumn than if all populations followed the same reaction norm regardless of location. Despite such signs of local adaptation, overall phenotypic plasticity was not sufficient for phenological events to keep exact pace with their cues-the earlier the year, the more did the timing of the phenological event lag behind the timing of the cue. Overall, these patterns suggest that differences in the spatial versus temporal reaction norms will affect species' response to climate change in opposite ways in spring and autumn.


chilling; climate change; heating; phenology; plasticity

Published in

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

2020, volume: 117, number: 49, pages: 31249-31258

Authors' information

Delgado, Maria del Mar
University of Oviedo
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Tikhonov, Gleb
University of Helsinki
Meyke, Evgeniy
Lo, Coong
University of Helsinki
Gurarie, Eliezer
University System of Maryland
Abadonova, Marina
Natl Pk Orlovskoe Polesie
Abduraimov, Ozodbek
Institute of Botany, Uzbekistan
Adrianova, Olga
Kostomuksha Nat Reserve
Akimova, Tatiana
Altai State Nat Biosphere Reserve
Akkiev, Muzhigit
Kabardino Balkarski Nat Reserve
Ananin, Aleksandr
Federal State Enterprise Zapovednoe Podlemorye
Ananin, Aleksandr
Russian Academy of Sciences
Andreeva, Elena
State Nat Reserve Stolby
Andriychuk, Natalia
Carpathian Biosphere Reserve
Antipin, Maxim
Nizhne Svirsky State Nat Reserve
Arzamascev, Konstantin
State Nat Reserve Prisursky
Babina, Svetlana
Pribajkalsky Natl Pk
Babushkin, Miroslav
Darwin Nat Biosphere Reserve
Bakin, Oleg
Volzhsko Kamsky Natl Nat Biosphere Rezerve
Show more authors

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification


Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)