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Plant phenology and climate change : Progress in methodological approaches and application

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      A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems.

      Causal attribution of recent biological trends to climate change is complicated because non-climatic influences dominate local, short-term biological changes. Any underlying signal from climate change is likely to be revealed by analyses that seek systematic trends across diverse species and geographic regions; however, debates within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal several definitions of a 'systematic trend'. Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than 1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change predictions. Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward), and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. We define a diagnostic fingerprint of temporal and spatial 'sign-switching' responses uniquely predicted by twentieth century climate trends. Among appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic fingerprint was found for 279 species. This suite of analyses generates 'very high confidence' (as laid down by the IPCC) that climate change is already affecting living systems.
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        Ecological responses to recent climate change.

        There is now ample evidence of the ecological impacts of recent climate change, from polar terrestrial to tropical marine environments. The responses of both flora and fauna span an array of ecosystems and organizational hierarchies, from the species to the community levels. Despite continued uncertainty as to community and ecosystem trajectories under global change, our review exposes a coherent pattern of ecological change across systems. Although we are only at an early stage in the projected trends of global warming, ecological responses to recent climate change are already clearly visible.
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          Using the satellite-derived NDVI to assess ecological responses to environmental change.

          Assessing how environmental changes affect the distribution and dynamics of vegetation and animal populations is becoming increasingly important for terrestrial ecologists to enable better predictions of the effects of global warming, biodiversity reduction or habitat degradation. The ability to predict ecological responses has often been hampered by our rather limited understanding of trophic interactions. Indeed, it has proven difficult to discern direct and indirect effects of environmental change on animal populations owing to limited information about vegetation at large temporal and spatial scales. The rapidly increasing use of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in ecological studies has recently changed this situation. Here, we review the use of the NDVI in recent ecological studies and outline its possible key role in future research of environmental change in an ecosystem context.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
            [2 ]South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), South Africa
            Journal
            Progress in Physical Geography
            Progress in Physical Geography
            SAGE Publications
            0309-1333
            1477-0296
            May 06 2015
            April 26 2015
            August 2015
            : 39
            : 4
            : 460-482
            10.1177/0309133315578940
            © 2015

            http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license

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