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Zohner, Constantin M.; Mo, Lidong; Renner, Susanne S. (2018): Global warming reduces leaf-out an flowering synchrony among individuals. In: eLife, Vol. 7, e40214
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Abstract

The temporal overlap of phenological stages, phenological synchrony, crucially influences ecosystem functioning. For flowering, among-individual synchrony influences gene flow. For leaf-out, it affects interactions with herbivores and competing plants. If individuals differ in their reaction to the ongoing change in global climate, this should affect population-level synchrony. Here, we use climate-manipulation experiments, Pan-European long-term (>15 years) observations, and common garden monitoring data on up to 72 woody and herbaceous species to study the effects of increasing temperatures on the extent of leaf-out and flowering synchrony within populations. Warmer temperatures reduce in situ leaf-out and flowering synchrony by up to 55%, and experiments on European beech provide a mechanism for how individual differences in day-length and/or chilling sensitivity may explain this finding. The rapid loss of reproductive and vegetative synchrony in European plants predicts changes in their gene flow and trophic interactions, but community-wide consequences remain largely unknown.