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      Evolutionary and demographic consequences of phenological mismatches

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      Nature ecology & evolution

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          Abstract

          Climate change has often led to unequal shifts in the seasonal timing (phenology) of interacting species, such as consumers and their resource, leading to phenological ‘mismatches’. Mismatches occur when the time where resource demands of the consumer species are high does not match with the period when this resource is abundant. Here, we review the evolutionary and population consequences of such mismatches and how these depend on other ecological factors, as, for example, additional drivers of selection or density-dependent recruitment. This review puts the research on phenological mismatches into a conceptual framework, applies this framework beyond consumer-resource interactions, and illustrates this framework using examples drawn from the vast body of literature on mismatches. Finally, we point out priority questions for research on this key impact of climate change.

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          Most cited references72

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          Impact of climate change on marine pelagic phenology and trophic mismatch.

          Phenology, the study of annually recurring life cycle events such as the timing of migrations and flowering, can provide particularly sensitive indicators of climate change. Changes in phenology may be important to ecosystem function because the level of response to climate change may vary across functional groups and multiple trophic levels. The decoupling of phenological relationships will have important ramifications for trophic interactions, altering food-web structures and leading to eventual ecosystem-level changes. Temperate marine environments may be particularly vulnerable to these changes because the recruitment success of higher trophic levels is highly dependent on synchronization with pulsed planktonic production. Using long-term data of 66 plankton taxa during the period from 1958 to 2002, we investigated whether climate warming signals are emergent across all trophic levels and functional groups within an ecological community. Here we show that not only is the marine pelagic community responding to climate changes, but also that the level of response differs throughout the community and the seasonal cycle, leading to a mismatch between trophic levels and functional groups.
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            Shifts in phenology due to global climate change: the need for a yardstick.

            Climate change has led to shifts in phenology in many species distributed widely across taxonomic groups. It is, however, unclear how we should interpret these shifts without some sort of a yardstick: a measure that will reflect how much a species should be shifting to match the change in its environment caused by climate change. Here, we assume that the shift in the phenology of a species' food abundance is, by a first approximation, an appropriate yardstick. We review the few examples that are available, ranging from birds to marine plankton. In almost all of these examples, the phenology of the focal species shifts either too little (five out of 11) or too much (three out of 11) compared to the yardstick. Thus, many species are becoming mistimed due to climate change. We urge researchers with long-term datasets on phenology to link their data with those that may serve as a yardstick, because documentation of the incidence of climate change-induced mistiming is crucial in assessing the impact of global climate change on the natural world.
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              Climate change and evolution: disentangling environmental and genetic responses.

              Rapid climate change is likely to impose strong selection pressures on traits important for fitness, and therefore, microevolution in response to climate-mediated selection is potentially an important mechanism mitigating negative consequences of climate change. We reviewed the empirical evidence for recent microevolutionary responses to climate change in longitudinal studies emphasizing the following three perspectives emerging from the published data. First, although signatures of climate change are clearly visible in many ecological processes, similar examples of microevolutionary responses in literature are in fact very rare. Second, the quality of evidence for microevolutionary responses to climate change is far from satisfactory as the documented responses are often - if not typically - based on nongenetic data. We reinforce the view that it is as important to make the distinction between genetic (evolutionary) and phenotypic (includes a nongenetic, plastic component) responses clear, as it is to understand the relative roles of plasticity and genetics in adaptation to climate change. Third, in order to illustrate the difficulties and their potential ubiquity in detection of microevolution in response to natural selection, we reviewed the quantitative genetic studies on microevolutionary responses to natural selection in the context of long-term studies of vertebrates. The available evidence points to the overall conclusion that many responses perceived as adaptations to changing environmental conditions could be environmentally induced plastic responses rather than microevolutionary adaptations. Hence, clear-cut evidence indicating a significant role for evolutionary adaptation to ongoing climate warming is conspicuously scarce.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                101698577
                Nat Ecol Evol
                Nat Ecol Evol
                Nature ecology & evolution
                2397-334X
                25 March 2019
                22 April 2019
                June 2019
                22 October 2019
                : 3
                : 6
                : 879-885
                Affiliations
                Department of Animal Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), P.O. Box 50, 6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                Correspondence should be addressed to Marcel E. Visser ( m.visser@ 123456nioo.knaw.nl )
                Article
                EMS82308
                10.1038/s41559-019-0880-8
                6544530
                31011176
                209f871a-e044-46e5-9d01-ba1409e16895

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