Linking phenological shifts to demographic change

Satu Ramula, Jacob Johansson, Andreas Lindén, Niclas Jonzén

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Article or Literature Reviewpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Climate-induced phenological shifts may have serious consequences for organisms and populations, but it is challenging to link such shifts to demographic change. Here, we present an overview of current methodological approaches for studying the demographic consequences of phenological shifts, based on a literature survey of 62 studies on diverse taxa. The majority of these studies (66%) were conducted using an approach that linked phenological shifts to demography through the measurement of vital rates (survival, growth, and fecundity). About 18% of the studies used a population-based approach that linked the phenological shifts to changes in population size, and 16% took a combined approach by considering changes in both vital rates and population size. Birds and mammals were overrepresented in studies of the demographic consequences of phenological shifts, compared to their occurrence in nature, while insects were heavily underrepresented. The effects of phenological shifts often varied according to the particular vital rate under consideration, in many cases even within a single species. In the few studies that examined changes in pheno logy together with both vital rate and population data, the changes in vital rates did not always predict changes in population size. To better understand the ultimate causes of population-level effects we argue that further study is needed on density-dependent aspects of population dynamics and on the sensitivity of population dynamics to perturbations in vital rates. We encourage researchers to observe multiple vital rates throughout organisms’ life-cycles in order to enable more meaningful examination of the consequences of phenological shifts for population dynamics.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)135–144
JournalClimate Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

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