Why climate change will invariably alter selection pressures on phenology

P. Gienapp, T. Reed, M.E. Visser

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
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The seasonal timing of lifecycle events is closely linked to individual fitness and hence, maladaptation in phenological traits may impact population dynamics. However, few studies have analysed whether and why climate change will alter selection pressures and hence possibly induce maladaptation in phenology. To fill this gap, we here use a theoretical modelling approach. In our models, the phenologies of consumer and resource are (potentially) environmentally sensitive and depend on two different but correlated environmental variables. Fitness of the consumer depends on the phenological match with the resource. Because we explicitly model the dependence of the phenologies on environmental variables, we can test how differential (heterogeneous) versus equal (homogeneous) rates of change in the environmental variables affect selection on consumer phenology. As expected, under heterogeneous change, phenotypic plasticity is insufficient and thus selection on consumer phenology arises. However, even homogeneous change leads to directional selection on consumer phenology. This is because the consumer reaction norm has historically evolved to be flatter than the resource reaction norm, owing to time lags and imperfect cue reliability. Climate change will therefore lead to increased selection on consumer phenology across a broad range of situations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20141611
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1793
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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