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      USA National Phenology Network’s volunteer-contributed observations yield predictive models of phenological transitions

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          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

          Abstract

          Purpose

          In support of science and society, the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) maintains a rapidly growing, continental-scale, species-rich dataset of plant and animal phenology observations that with over 10 million records is the largest such database in the United States. The aim of this study was to explore the potential that exists in the broad and rich volunteer-collected dataset maintained by the USA-NPN for constructing models predicting the timing of phenological transition across species’ ranges within the continental United States. Contributed voluntarily by professional and citizen scientists, these opportunistically collected observations are characterized by spatial clustering, inconsistent spatial and temporal sampling, and short temporal depth (2009-present). Whether data exhibiting such limitations can be used to develop predictive models appropriate for use across large geographic regions has not yet been explored.

          Methods

          We constructed predictive models for phenophases that are the most abundant in the database and also relevant to management applications for all species with available data, regardless of plant growth habit, location, geographic extent, or temporal depth of the observations. We implemented a very basic model formulation—thermal time models with a fixed start date.

          Results

          Sufficient data were available to construct 107 individual species × phenophase models. Remarkably, given the limited temporal depth of this dataset and the simple modeling approach used, fifteen of these models (14%) met our criteria for model fit and error. The majority of these models represented the “breaking leaf buds” and “leaves” phenophases and represented shrub or tree growth forms. Accumulated growing degree day (GDD) thresholds that emerged ranged from 454 GDDs ( Amelanchier canadensis-breaking leaf buds) to 1,300 GDDs ( Prunus serotina-open flowers). Such candidate thermal time thresholds can be used to produce real-time and short-term forecast maps of the timing of these phenophase transition. In addition, many of the candidate models that emerged were suitable for use across the majority of the species’ geographic ranges. Real-time and forecast maps of phenophase transitions could support a wide range of natural resource management applications, including invasive plant management, issuing asthma and allergy alerts, and anticipating frost damage for crops in vulnerable states.

          Implications

          Our finding that several viable thermal time threshold models that work across the majority of the species ranges could be constructed from the USA-NPN database provides clear evidence that great potential exists this dataset to develop more enhanced predictive models for additional species and phenophases. Further, the candidate models that emerged have immediate utility for supporting a wide range of management applications.

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          Most cited references 39

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          River flow forecasting through conceptual models part I — A discussion of principles

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            A Meta-Analysis of Local Adaptation in Plants

            Local adaptation is of fundamental importance in evolutionary, population, conservation, and global-change biology. The generality of local adaptation in plants and whether and how it is influenced by specific species, population and habitat characteristics have, however, not been quantitatively reviewed. Therefore, we examined published data on the outcomes of reciprocal transplant experiments using two approaches. We conducted a meta-analysis to compare the performance of local and foreign plants at all transplant sites. In addition, we analysed frequencies of pairs of plant origin to examine whether local plants perform better than foreign plants at both compared transplant sites. In both approaches, we also examined the effects of population size, and of the habitat and species characteristics that are predicted to affect local adaptation. We show that, overall, local plants performed significantly better than foreign plants at their site of origin: this was found to be the case in 71.0% of the studied sites. However, local plants performed better than foreign plants at both sites of a pair-wise comparison (strict definition of local adaption) only in 45.3% of the 1032 compared population pairs. Furthermore, we found local adaptation much more common for large plant populations (>1000 flowering individuals) than for small populations (<1000 flowering individuals) for which local adaptation was very rare. The degree of local adaptation was independent of plant life history, spatial or temporal habitat heterogeneity, and geographic scale. Our results suggest that local adaptation is less common in plant populations than generally assumed. Moreover, our findings reinforce the fundamental importance of population size for evolutionary theory. The clear role of population size for the ability to evolve local adaptation raises considerable doubt on the ability of small plant populations to cope with changing environments.
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              Gene Flow and Local Adaptation in Trees

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: SoftwareRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: SoftwareRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                22 August 2017
                2017
                : 12
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ] National Coordinating Office, USA National Phenology Network, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
                [2 ] School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
                [3 ] Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
                [4 ] U.S. Geological Survey, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
                Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi, CANADA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                PONE-D-17-17496
                10.1371/journal.pone.0182919
                5568737
                28829783

                This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

                Counts
                Figures: 4, Tables: 1, Pages: 17
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: U.S. Geological Survey (US)
                Award ID: G14AC00405
                This study was supported through a cooperative agreement (G14AC00405) between U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and University of Arizona. The co-author Jake Weltzin, an employee of the USGS, was involved in the preparation of the manuscript as a part of his regular government duties.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Plant Science
                Plant Anatomy
                Leaves
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Plant Science
                Plant Anatomy
                Flowers
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Plant Science
                Plant Anatomy
                Buds
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Evolutionary Biology
                Evolutionary Processes
                Speciation
                Species Delimitation
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Mathematical and Statistical Techniques
                Statistical Methods
                Forecasting
                Physical Sciences
                Mathematics
                Statistics (Mathematics)
                Statistical Methods
                Forecasting
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Species Colonization
                Invasive Species
                People and places
                Geographical locations
                North America
                United States
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Organisms
                Plants
                Flowering Plants
                Custom metadata
                All relevant data are available from the ScienceBase repository at doi: 10.5066/F7XG9Q0X.

                Uncategorized

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