Experimental warming differentially affects vegetative and reproductive phenology of tundra plants

Courtney G. Collins, Sarah C. Elmendorf, Robert D. Hollister, Greg H.R. Henry, Karin Clark, Anne D. Bjorkman, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Janet S. Prevéy, Isabel W. Ashton, Jakob J. Assmann, Juha M. Alatalo, Michele Carbognani, Chelsea Chisholm, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Chiara Forrester, Ingibjörg Svala Jónsdóttir, Kari Klanderud, Christopher W. Kopp, Carolyn Livensperger, Marguerite MauritzJeremy L. May, Ulf Molau, Steven F. Oberbauer, Emily Ogburn, Zoe A. Panchen, Alessandro Petraglia, Eric Post, Christian Rixen, Heidi Rodenhizer, Edward A.G. Schuur, Philipp Semenchuk, Jane G. Smith, Heidi Steltzer, Ørjan Totland, Marilyn D. Walker, Jeffrey M. Welker, Katharine N. Suding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Rapid climate warming is altering Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystem structure and function, including shifts in plant phenology. While the advancement of green up and flowering are well-documented, it remains unclear whether all phenophases, particularly those later in the season, will shift in unison or respond divergently to warming. Here, we present the largest synthesis to our knowledge of experimental warming effects on tundra plant phenology from the International Tundra Experiment. We examine the effect of warming on a suite of season-wide plant phenophases. Results challenge the expectation that all phenophases will advance in unison to warming. Instead, we find that experimental warming caused: (1) larger phenological shifts in reproductive versus vegetative phenophases and (2) advanced reproductive phenophases and green up but delayed leaf senescence which translated to a lengthening of the growing season by approximately 3%. Patterns were consistent across sites, plant species and over time. The advancement of reproductive seasons and lengthening of growing seasons may have significant consequences for trophic interactions and ecosystem function across the tundra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3442
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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