Friday, July 15, 2016

Primack Lab in National Geographic magazine!

Posted by Richard B. Primack

“I am on the alert for the first signs of spring...” 
-Henry David Thoreau 

A recent article, published in the July 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine, summarizes our 16 years of research on the effects of climate change on the phenology of plants and birds in Concord, MA. We are delighted to share our research with such a broad audience; National Geographic circulates to 3.5 million readers in the U.S. and around 6.7 million readers internationally, in 40 languages.

The article highlights the possibility of ecological mismatches between the spring flowering and leafing out times of plants and the spring arrival times of birds. Plants are now flowering and leafing out two weeks earlier than in Thoreau’s time due to warmer temperatures, while birds have changed hardly at all. Could this be affecting the ecology of birds and the insects that they are feeding on? We don’t know yet.

The article also provides a figure showing that most wildflower species have a first flowering date that is earlier now than in the past. In contrast to this general pattern, three species are shown to be flowering later now than in the past, but no explanation is provided. This later date of current first flowering is probably due to the declining population sizes of these species, which is a complication of working with first flowering dates rather than average flowering dates.  
Find the full article HERE.

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