One of the most significant impacts of climate change is likely to be changes in the timing of events in the life cycle of plants — in particular, earlier flowering and/or fruiting. Timing of life cycle events is known as phenology. Consequences of phenological changes could include mismatches between plants and their pollinators, exposure of seeds and seedlings to drought, reduced food availability for herbivorous animals, and exposure of fragile new tissue to freezing temperatures. At the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, we're tracking phenological shifts in watered and unwatered plants on our grounds and nearby, evaluating whether and how much different groups of plants have altered their phenologies over the past 40 years. We plan to continue tracking these shifts as time goes on, maintaining an ever-growing, long-term dataset that will help us understand these changing dynamics.
Contact: Kim Franklin
Additional resources: National Phenology Network