Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change

E. M. Wolkovich, B. I. Cook, J. M. Allen, Theresa M Crimmins, J. L. Betancourt, S. E. Travers, S. Pau, J. Regetz, T. J. Davies, N. J B Kraft, T. R. Ault, K. Bolmgren, S. J. Mazer, G. J. McCabe, B. J. McGill, C. Parmesan, N. Salamin, M. D. Schwartz, E. E. Cleland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

428 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change. For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing. We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations. For species that were common to both study types, the experimental results did not match the observational data in sign or magnitude. The observational data also showed that species that flower earliest in the spring have the highest temperature sensitivities, but this trend was not reflected in the experimental data. These significant mismatches seem to be unrelated to the study length or to the degree of manipulated warming in experiments. The discrepancy between experiments and observations, however, could arise from complex interactions among multiple drivers in the observational data, or it could arise from remediable artefacts in the experiments that result in lower irradiance and drier soils, thus dampening the phenological responses to manipulated warming. Our results introduce uncertainty into ecosystem models that are informed solely by experiments and suggest that responses to climate change that are predicted using such models should be re-evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-497
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume485
Issue number7399
DOIs
StatePublished - May 24 2012

Fingerprint

Climate Change
Temperature
Artifacts
Uncertainty
Observational Studies
Ecosystem
Soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Wolkovich, E. M., Cook, B. I., Allen, J. M., Crimmins, T. M., Betancourt, J. L., Travers, S. E., ... Cleland, E. E. (2012). Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change. Nature, 485(7399), 494-497. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11014

Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change. / Wolkovich, E. M.; Cook, B. I.; Allen, J. M.; Crimmins, Theresa M; Betancourt, J. L.; Travers, S. E.; Pau, S.; Regetz, J.; Davies, T. J.; Kraft, N. J B; Ault, T. R.; Bolmgren, K.; Mazer, S. J.; McCabe, G. J.; McGill, B. J.; Parmesan, C.; Salamin, N.; Schwartz, M. D.; Cleland, E. E.

In: Nature, Vol. 485, No. 7399, 24.05.2012, p. 494-497.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wolkovich, EM, Cook, BI, Allen, JM, Crimmins, TM, Betancourt, JL, Travers, SE, Pau, S, Regetz, J, Davies, TJ, Kraft, NJB, Ault, TR, Bolmgren, K, Mazer, SJ, McCabe, GJ, McGill, BJ, Parmesan, C, Salamin, N, Schwartz, MD & Cleland, EE 2012, 'Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change', Nature, vol. 485, no. 7399, pp. 494-497. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11014
Wolkovich EM, Cook BI, Allen JM, Crimmins TM, Betancourt JL, Travers SE et al. Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change. Nature. 2012 May 24;485(7399):494-497. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11014
Wolkovich, E. M. ; Cook, B. I. ; Allen, J. M. ; Crimmins, Theresa M ; Betancourt, J. L. ; Travers, S. E. ; Pau, S. ; Regetz, J. ; Davies, T. J. ; Kraft, N. J B ; Ault, T. R. ; Bolmgren, K. ; Mazer, S. J. ; McCabe, G. J. ; McGill, B. J. ; Parmesan, C. ; Salamin, N. ; Schwartz, M. D. ; Cleland, E. E. / Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change. In: Nature. 2012 ; Vol. 485, No. 7399. pp. 494-497.
@article{3bbd64777e11453f9afda82e3116415d,
title = "Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change",
abstract = "Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change. For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing. We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations. For species that were common to both study types, the experimental results did not match the observational data in sign or magnitude. The observational data also showed that species that flower earliest in the spring have the highest temperature sensitivities, but this trend was not reflected in the experimental data. These significant mismatches seem to be unrelated to the study length or to the degree of manipulated warming in experiments. The discrepancy between experiments and observations, however, could arise from complex interactions among multiple drivers in the observational data, or it could arise from remediable artefacts in the experiments that result in lower irradiance and drier soils, thus dampening the phenological responses to manipulated warming. Our results introduce uncertainty into ecosystem models that are informed solely by experiments and suggest that responses to climate change that are predicted using such models should be re-evaluated.",
author = "Wolkovich, {E. M.} and Cook, {B. I.} and Allen, {J. M.} and Crimmins, {Theresa M} and Betancourt, {J. L.} and Travers, {S. E.} and S. Pau and J. Regetz and Davies, {T. J.} and Kraft, {N. J B} and Ault, {T. R.} and K. Bolmgren and Mazer, {S. J.} and McCabe, {G. J.} and McGill, {B. J.} and C. Parmesan and N. Salamin and Schwartz, {M. D.} and Cleland, {E. E.}",
year = "2012",
month = "5",
day = "24",
doi = "10.1038/nature11014",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "485",
pages = "494--497",
journal = "Nature",
issn = "0028-0836",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",
number = "7399",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change

AU - Wolkovich, E. M.

AU - Cook, B. I.

AU - Allen, J. M.

AU - Crimmins, Theresa M

AU - Betancourt, J. L.

AU - Travers, S. E.

AU - Pau, S.

AU - Regetz, J.

AU - Davies, T. J.

AU - Kraft, N. J B

AU - Ault, T. R.

AU - Bolmgren, K.

AU - Mazer, S. J.

AU - McCabe, G. J.

AU - McGill, B. J.

AU - Parmesan, C.

AU - Salamin, N.

AU - Schwartz, M. D.

AU - Cleland, E. E.

PY - 2012/5/24

Y1 - 2012/5/24

N2 - Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change. For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing. We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations. For species that were common to both study types, the experimental results did not match the observational data in sign or magnitude. The observational data also showed that species that flower earliest in the spring have the highest temperature sensitivities, but this trend was not reflected in the experimental data. These significant mismatches seem to be unrelated to the study length or to the degree of manipulated warming in experiments. The discrepancy between experiments and observations, however, could arise from complex interactions among multiple drivers in the observational data, or it could arise from remediable artefacts in the experiments that result in lower irradiance and drier soils, thus dampening the phenological responses to manipulated warming. Our results introduce uncertainty into ecosystem models that are informed solely by experiments and suggest that responses to climate change that are predicted using such models should be re-evaluated.

AB - Warming experiments are increasingly relied on to estimate plant responses to global climate change. For experiments to provide meaningful predictions of future responses, they should reflect the empirical record of responses to temperature variability and recent warming, including advances in the timing of flowering and leafing. We compared phenology (the timing of recurring life history events) in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species using a common measure of temperature sensitivity (change in days per degree Celsius). We show that warming experiments underpredict advances in the timing of flowering and leafing by 8.5-fold and 4.0-fold, respectively, compared with long-term observations. For species that were common to both study types, the experimental results did not match the observational data in sign or magnitude. The observational data also showed that species that flower earliest in the spring have the highest temperature sensitivities, but this trend was not reflected in the experimental data. These significant mismatches seem to be unrelated to the study length or to the degree of manipulated warming in experiments. The discrepancy between experiments and observations, however, could arise from complex interactions among multiple drivers in the observational data, or it could arise from remediable artefacts in the experiments that result in lower irradiance and drier soils, thus dampening the phenological responses to manipulated warming. Our results introduce uncertainty into ecosystem models that are informed solely by experiments and suggest that responses to climate change that are predicted using such models should be re-evaluated.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84861421708&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84861421708&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1038/nature11014

DO - 10.1038/nature11014

M3 - Article

C2 - 22622576

AN - SCOPUS:84861421708

VL - 485

SP - 494

EP - 497

JO - Nature

JF - Nature

SN - 0028-0836

IS - 7399

ER -