Highly individualistic rates of plant phenological advance associated with arctic sea ice dynamics

Eric Post, Jeffrey Kerby, Christian Pedersen, Heidi Steltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We analysed 12 years of species-specific emergence dates of plants at a LowArctic site near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to investigate associations with sea ice dynamics, a potential contributor to local temperature variation in near-coastal tundra. Species displayed highly variable rates of phenological advance, from a maximum of-2.55± 0.17 and-2.93± 0.51 d yr-1 among a graminoid and forb, respectively, to a minimum of-0.55± 0.19 d yr-1 or no advance at all in the two deciduous shrub species. Monthly Arctic-wide sea ice extent was a significant predictor of emergence timing in 10 of 14 species. Despite variation in rates of advance among species, these rates were generally greatest in the earliest emerging species, for which monthly sea ice extent was also the primary predictor of emergence. Variation among species in rates of phenological advance reshuffled the phenological community, with deciduous shrubs leafing out progressively later relative to forbs and graminoids. Because early species advanced more rapidly than late species, and because rates of advance were greatest in species for which emergence phenology was associated with sea ice dynamics, accelerating sea ice decline may contribute to further divergence between early-and late-emerging species in this community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0332
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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