Phenological desynchronization and climate change



Rivera, Isis Danielle, “Phenological desynchronization and climate change,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed January 16, 2021,


Phenological desynchronization and climate change


Rivera, Isis Danielle




Phenology is the study of animal and plant life cycles. Co-evolution of organisms within ecosystems has produced interspecies coordination of the timing of life cycle events, such as flowering, hibernation, reproduction, and migration. However, different species are cued by different climatic signals like light, rainfall, and temperature. Changes in these signals alter the timing of these events, causing shifts in the key parts of an organism’s life cycle. These shifts result in the desynchronization of co-evolved organisms that are dependent on one another known as phenological asynchrony. For example, caribou migration is prompted by seasonal increases in day length, while the Arctic plants caribou offspring consume are growing earlier in the season due to warmer temperatures. The shift to warmer temperatures results in less nutritious plants by the end of caribou migration and ultimately higher calf mortality. Phenological mismatches that can be attributed to climate change, such as this one, indicate the destabilization of ecosystems. Thus, I will be performing a literature review of recorded phenological shifts and their relationship to climate change to demonstrate an oncoming trend that will disrupt key parts of ecosystems. Throughout this review, I will also indicate any patterns found to be associated with this trend, including frequently impacted species and biomes.

Video available upon request.


phenological asynchrony; phenology; co-evolution; climate change; life cycles


Simmons University (Boston, Mass.)


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mp4 video




Undergraduate Symposium
Project Discipline: Environmental Science