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CR 63:203-214 (2015)  -  DOI:

Shifting time: recent changes to the phenology of Australian species

Linda J. Beaumont1,*, Teagan Hartenthaler1, Marie R. Keatley2, Lynda E. Chambers3

1Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
2Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne, Creswick, Vic 3363, Australia
3Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 1289, Melbourne, Vic 3001, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Phenology is the study of the timing of recurrent biological events and their biotic and abiotic drivers. There is considerable evidence, mostly from temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, of recent changes to phenological trends, likely to be in response to anthropogenic climate disruption. Here, we assess recent evidence of climate-related phenological shifts among Australian species, across environments ranging from alpine to semi-arid. While detailed knowledge of the phenology of many Australian species has a rich history among indigenous cultures, long-term recording of phenology has focused mostly on birds and plants, particularly agricultural crops, with few records for other taxa. Combined, datasets demonstrate that over recent decades there has been a strong trend towards advanced spring phenology associated with increases in temperature. However, precipitation also plays a key role in driving trends among numerous species, particularly where the onset of the phenophase is now occurring later in the season. In general, our understanding of changes to phenology is superficial: more complicated issues, such as identifying constraints to species responses, thermal sensitivity across life-cycle stages, non-climatic drivers of phenological trends, and disruptions to interacting species, remain poorly explored. Carefully designed studies, along with renewed interest in establishing observation networks supplemented with citizen science programs, can address some of these knowledge gaps.

KEY WORDS: Agriculture · Australia · Breeding · Citizen science · Climate change · Flowering · Migration · Phenology

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Cite this article as: Beaumont LJ, Hartenthaler T, Keatley MR, Chambers LE (2015) Shifting time: recent changes to the phenology of Australian species. Clim Res 63:203-214.

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