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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Phenological Changes in the Southern Hemisphere

Chambers, Lynda; Altwegg, Res; Barbraud, Christophe; Barnard, Phoebe; Beaumont, Linda; Crawford, Robert; Durrant, Joel; Hughes, Lesley; Keatley, Marie; Low, Matthew; Morellato, Patricia; Poloczanska, Elvira; Ruoppolo, Valeria; Vanstreels, Ralph; Woehler, Eric; Wolfaardt, Anton


Current evidence of phenological responses to recent climate change is substantially biased towards northern hemisphere temperate regions. Given regional differences in climate change, shifts in phenology will not be uniform across the globe, and conclusions drawn from temperate systems in the northern hemisphere might not be applicable to other regions on the planet. We conduct the largest meta-analysis to date of phenological drivers and trends among southern hemisphere species, assessing 1208 long-term datasets from 89 studies on 347 species. Data were mostly from Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), South America and the Antarctic/subantarctic, and focused primarily on plants and birds. This meta-analysis shows an advance in the timing of spring events (with a strong Australian data bias), although substantial differences in trends were apparent among taxonomic groups and regions. When only statistically significant trends were considered, 82% of terrestrial datasets and 42% of marine datasets demonstrated an advance in phenology. Temperature was most frequently identified as the primary driver of phenological changes; however, in many studies it was the only climate variable considered. When precipitation was examined, it often played a key role but, in contrast with temperature, the direction of phenological shifts in response to precipitation variation was difficult to predicta priori. We discuss how phenological information can inform the adaptive capacity of species, their resilience, and constraints on autonomous adaptation. We also highlight serious weaknesses in past and current data collection and analyses at large regional scales (with very few studies in the tropics or from Africa) and dramatic taxonomic biases. If accurate predictions regarding the general effects of climate change on the biology of organisms are to be made, data collection policies focussing on targeting data-deficient regions and taxa need to be financially and logistically supported.

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2013, Volume: 8, number: 10, article number: e75514
Publisher: Public Library of Science

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    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water
    SDG13 Climate action

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