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Ecology. 2013 Oct;94(10):2311-20.

Early onset of spring increases the phenological mismatch between plants and pollinators.

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Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 0600810 Japan.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4 Canada.


Climate warming accelerates the timing of flowering and insect pollinator emergence, especially in spring. If these phenological shifts progress independently between species, features of plant-pollinator mutualisms may be modified. However, evidence of phenological mismatch in pollination systems is limited. We investigated the phenologies of a spring ephemeral, Corydalis ambigua, and its pollinators (bumble bees), and seed-set success over 10-14 years in three populations. Although both flowering onset and first detection of overwintered queen bees in the C. ambigua populations were closely related to snowmelt time and/or spring temperature, flowering tended to be ahead of first pollinator detection when spring came early, resulting in lower seed production owing to low pollination service. Relationships between flowering onset time, phenological mismatch, and seed-set success strongly suggest that phenological mismatch is a major limiting factor for reproduction of spring ephemerals. This report demonstrates the mechanism of phenological mismatch and its ecological impact on plant-pollinator interactions based on long-term monitoring. Frequent occurrence of mismatch can decrease seed production and may affect the population dynamics of spring ephemerals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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