Shorter flowering seasons and declining abundance of flower visitors in a warmer Arctic

Toke T. Høye, Eric Post, Niels M. Schmidt, Kristian Trøjelsgaard, Mads C. Forchhammer

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Abstract

Advancing phenology in response to global warming has been reported across biomes, raising concerns about the temporal uncoupling of trophic interactions. Concurrently, widely reported flower visitor declines have been linked to resource limitations. Phenological responses in the Arctic have been shown to outpace responses from lower latitudes and recent studies suggest that differences between such responses for plants and their flower visitors could be particularly pronounced in the Arctic. The evidence for phenological uncoupling is scant because relevant data sets are lacking or not available at a relevant spatial scale. Here, we present evidence of a climate-associated shortening of the flowering season and a concomitant decline in flower visitor abundance based on a long-term, spatially replicated (1996-2009) data set from high-Arctic Greenland. A unique feature of the data set is the spatial and temporal overlap of independent observations of plant and insect phenology. The shortening of the flowering season arose through spatial variation in phenological responses to warming. The shorter flowering seasons may have played a role in the observed decline in flower visitor abundance. Our results demonstrate that the dramatic climatic changes currently taking place in the Arctic are strongly affecting individual species and ecological communities, with implications for trophic interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-763
Number of pages5
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume3
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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    Høye, T. T., Post, E., Schmidt, N. M., Trøjelsgaard, K., & Forchhammer, M. C. (2013). Shorter flowering seasons and declining abundance of flower visitors in a warmer Arctic. Nature Climate Change, 3(8), 759-763. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1909