Ian Breckheimer, Research Fellow
OEB, Harvard University
Topic: Beyond phenological mismatch: community and landscape dynamics of angiosperm reproduction in a warming world
In the era of accelerating climate change, ecologists are rushing to try and understand how species and ecological communities are responding to altered climates. A central thrust of this research over the past decade has been to examine how warmer temperatures and altered precipitation regimes drive changes in species interactions. Many studies in this field suggest that climate change is dismantling communities by altering the seasonal timing of reproduction and trophic interactions, a phenomenon known as phenological mismatch. In this talk I will examine the case for the importance of phenological mismatch in more detail, and marshal evidence from subalpine plant communities in the Washington Cascades to show that a singular focus on phenological mismatch could obscure our understanding of the complex ecological changes that are occurring as spring comes earlier. My ongoing work explores how lower snowpack and warmer spring temperatures change reproductive synchrony within plant populations, co-flowering patterns in plant communities, and the exposure of plants to risky climatic events such as frost across large landscapes. None of these changes fit under the umbrella of phenological mismatch, but may have dramatic impacts on plant communities as the world continues to warm.
Host Lab: Davis