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Interpheno : species synchrony

Mountain ecosystems host a large numbers of plant and animal species that have developed a series of adjustments in response to strong environmental factors (high altitudes and extreme climate). These ecosystems, because of their specifics, are therefore very sensitive to climate change, which is particularly marked at high altitudes. If the predictive models are confirmed, each ecological belt could rise in altitude in the course of this century by 600 to 700 meters, taking the place of the above belts. The areas occupied by the alpine belt therefore risks shrinking considerably, becoming limited to massifs at high altitudes. This increase in temperatures can affect plant phenology, altering the appearance of periodic events (in early spring and late autumn), as well as animal phenology, anticipating the springtime activities of animals (especially insects, amphibians and birds). In the case of non-migratory animals, one of the greater selective pressure on the timing of reproduction will be the synchronism between reproductive needs and the availability of food (Visser & Both 2005). Global warming may therefore disrupt the interactions of ecosystems by altering relations between plant and animal species. Evolutionary mechanisms able to cope with these changes can be slow. It therefore seems important to determine whether there is a mismatch between the responses of animals and plants to climate change, namely a loss of synchronicity.

RES IP_combo

Protocol

Analyses of phenological data collected within PhenoPlantes and PhenoZoo actions over two years make it possible to assess differences in response to temperature variations between different types of organisms studied (perennials grasses, trees, insects, amphibians, birds, mammals). Four sites have been involved in data collection: Chamonix Valley (FR), Parc Naturel Regional du Massif des Bauges (FR), the Parco Naturale del Mont Avic (IT) and the Saint Marcel valley - ZPS Mont Avic - Mont Emilius (IT) 

Results

Data analysis has been designed with the aim of revealing a shift or continuity in the synchrony between the responses of plants and animals. It seems that all the plant species (grasses and trees) significantly anticipate their start date in spring 2011 (see table below). Red frogs adapted to the early spring of 2011 by bringing forward their spawning date by 18 days. Amphibians living in water during reproduction are very sensitive to spring weather and in particular to the temperature which controls their awakening from hibernating. At high altitudes, moreover, access to "open" water is possible after snowmelt and ice thawing. The hatching of eggs and the speed of development of tadpoles to the frog stage then depend, mainly, on the temperature (see PhenoZoo).

Bumble bees and black tits, in contrast, seem to be less strongly influenced by spring 2011 warming. The phase shift for bumblebees was 10 days, while for black tit it was 7. This asynchrony could be due to the fact that their organisms react in different ways to temperature. Coal tit, for example, cannot adapt eggs development in response to an increase in temperature occuring after laying (Visser et al. 2004). In addition, other factors than climate drivers can influence the phenology of these species. For example, daylength, defined by the orbit and the inclination of the Earth relative to the Sun, is a factor independent of climate which has been proven cna affect the phenology of many species (Visser & Both 2005). 

Tab: Shift (days) in spring phenological phases between 2011 and 2010 for different plant and animal species

Phenological event delay (days)
Greening
alpine grassland
18
Shrubs (Rhododendron ferrugineum)
flowering
20
Grasses (Nardus stricta)
flowering
16
Forbs (Arnica montana)
flowering
17
Forest trees (Betula sp.)
budburst
16
Bombs (Bombus mendax)
presence of workers
10
Frogs (Rana temporaria)
laying dates
18
Coal tit (Periparus ater)
laying dates
7

Conclusion

Monitoring protocols used in PhenoAlp were able to detect the different acclimations to climatic variations depending on the type of organism: some species alter their phenological development depending on the weather conditions, while others do not seem to be able to alter their development with the same plasticity. This reuslts in an asynchrony between organisms and this could affect ecosystem functioning.

NEWS

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents

Jan 2013

NEW PAPER! "Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season" was published on Environmental Research Letters

May 2013

Watch PhenoALP presentation video!

Jun 2014

NDVI database now available

Aug 2013

Do you want to start phenological observations in your classes? Here is the experience from Torgnon primary school.

Dec 2013

Midterm Meeting took place: have a look at the contents