CR 63:135-144 (2015)  -  DOI:

Linking phenological shifts to demographic change

Satu Ramula1,2,*, Jacob Johansson3, Andreas Lindén1, Niclas Jonzén3

1Åbo Akademi University and Novia University of Applied Sciences, Aronia Coastal Zone Research Team, Raseborgsvägen 9, 10600 Ekenäs, Finland
2Department of Biology, Biodiversity Unit, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
3Department of Biology, Theoretical Population Ecology and Evolution Group, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate-induced phenological shifts may have serious consequences for organisms and populations, but it is challenging to link such shifts to demographic change. Here, we present an overview of current methodological approaches for studying the demographic consequences of phenological shifts, based on a literature survey of 62 studies on diverse taxa. The majority of these studies (66%) were conducted using an approach that linked phenological shifts to demography through the measurement of vital rates (survival, growth, and fecundity). About 18% of the studies used a population-based approach that linked the phenological shifts to changes in population size, and 16% took a combined approach by considering changes in both vital rates and population size. Birds and mammals were overrepresented in studies of the demographic consequences of phenological shifts, compared to their occurrence in nature, while insects were heavily underrepresented. The effects of phenological shifts often varied according to the particular vital rate under consideration, in many cases even within a single species. In the few studies that examined changes in phenology together with both vital rate and population data, the changes in vital rates did not always predict changes in population size. To better understand the ultimate causes of population-level effects we argue that further study is needed on density-dependent aspects of population dynamics and on the sensitivity of population dynamics to perturbations in vital rates. We encourage researchers to observe multiple vital rates throughout organisms’ life-cycles in order to enable more meaningful examination of the consequences of phenological shifts for population dynamics.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Demography · Fitness · Phenology · Population dynamics · Population size · Timing · Vital rates

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Cite this article as: Ramula S, Johansson J, Lindén A, Jonzén N (2015) Linking phenological shifts to demographic change. Clim Res 63:135-144.

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