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Disconnects between ecological theory and data in phenological mismatch research

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Abstract

Climate change may lead to phenological mismatches, where the timing of critical events between interacting species becomes desynchronized, with potential negative consequences. Evidence documenting negative impacts on fitness is mixed. The Cushing match-mismatch hypothesis, the most common hypothesis underlying these studies, offers testable assumptions and predictions to determine consequences of phenological mismatch when combined with a pre-climate change baseline. Here, we highlight how improved approaches could rapidly advance mechanistic understanding. We find that, to the best of our knowledge, no study has yet collected the data required to test this hypothesis well, and 71% of studies fail to define a baseline. Experiments that clearly link timing to fitness and test extremes, integration across approaches and null models would aid robust predictions of shifts with climate change.

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Fig. 1: Conceptualization of the Cushing match–mismatch hypothesis.
Fig. 2: A simplified flow diagram for forecasting climate change effects on consumer fitness, as predicted by the Cushing hypothesis.
Fig. 3: Key assumptions and resulting implications for climate change predictions, when pre-climate change baselines are not defined.

Data availability

The data supporting the results are archived in Dryad accessible at https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7pvmcvdpz.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Ehrlen, J. Myers, K. Bolmgren, K. Cottingham, L. McClenachan, M. O’Connor and S. Travers for interesting discussions, and to I. Breckheimer, A. Ettinger and D. Loughnan for constructive feedback on the manuscript. H.M.K. thanks the professor writing retreats offered through the Centre for Academic Leadership at the University of Ottawa for support in writing this manuscript.

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H.M.K. and E.M.W. conceived of the ideas and contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript. H.M.K. collected and analysed the data.

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Correspondence to Heather M. Kharouba.

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Kharouba, H.M., Wolkovich, E.M. Disconnects between ecological theory and data in phenological mismatch research. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 406–415 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0752-x

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    • , Alexander Hritankov
    • , Elena Ignatenko
    • , Svetlana Igosheva
    • , Uliya Ivanova
    • , Natalya Ivanova
    • , Yury Kalinkin
    • , Evgeniya Kaygorodova
    • , Fedor Kazansky
    • , Darya Kiseleva
    • , Anastasia Knorre
    • , Leonid Kolpashikov
    • , Evgenii Korobov
    • , Helen Korolyova
    • , Natalia Korotkikh
    • , Gennadiy Kosenkov
    • , Sergey Kossenko
    • , Elvira Kotlugalyamova
    • , Evgeny Kozlovsky
    • , Vladimir Kozsheechkin
    • , Alla Kozurak
    • , Irina Kozyr
    • , Aleksandra Krasnopevtseva
    • , Sergey Kruglikov
    • , Olga Kuberskaya
    • , Aleksey Kudryavtsev
    • , Elena Kulebyakina
    • , Yuliia Kulsha
    • , Margarita Kupriyanova
    • , Murad Kurbanbagamaev
    • , Anatoliy Kutenkov
    • , Nadezhda Kutenkova
    • , Nadezhda Kuyantseva
    • , Andrey Kuznetsov
    • , Evgeniy Larin
    • , Pavel Lebedev
    • , Kirill Litvinov
    • , Natalia Luzhkova
    • , Azizbek Mahmudov
    • , Lidiya Makovkina
    • , Viktor Mamontov
    • , Svetlana Mayorova
    • , Irina Megalinskaja
    • , Artur Meydus
    • , Aleksandr Minin
    • , Oleg Mitrofanov
    • , Mykhailo Motruk
    • , Aleksandr Myslenkov
    • , Nina Nasonova
    • , Natalia Nemtseva
    • , Irina Nesterova
    • , Tamara Nezdoliy
    • , Tatyana Niroda
    • , Tatiana Novikova
    • , Darya Panicheva
    • , Alexey Pavlov
    • , Klara Pavlova
    • , Sergei Podolski
    • , Natalja Polikarpova
    • , Tatiana Polyanskaya
    • , Igor Pospelov
    • , Elena Pospelova
    • , Ilya Prokhorov
    • , Irina Prokosheva
    • , Lyudmila Puchnina
    • , Ivan Putrashyk
    • , Julia Raiskaya
    • , Yuri Rozhkov
    • , Olga Rozhkova
    • , Marina Rudenko
    • , Irina Rybnikova
    • , Svetlana Rykova
    • , Miroslava Sahnevich
    • , Alexander Samoylov
    • , Valeri Sanko
    • , Inna Sapelnikova
    • , Sergei Sazonov
    • , Zoya Selyunina
    • , Ksenia Shalaeva
    • , Maksim Shashkov
    • , Anatoliy Shcherbakov
    • , Vasyl Shevchyk
    • , Sergej Shubin
    • , Elena Shujskaja
    • , Rustam Sibgatullin
    • , Natalia Sikkila
    • , Elena Sitnikova
    • , Andrei Sivkov
    • , Nataliya Skok
    • , Svetlana Skorokhodova
    • , Elena Smirnova
    • , Galina Sokolova
    • , Vladimir Sopin
    • , Yurii Spasovski
    • , Sergei Stepanov
    • , Vitalіy Stratiy
    • , Violetta Strekalovskaya
    • , Alexander Sukhov
    • , Guzalya Suleymanova
    • , Lilija Sultangareeva
    • , Viktorija Teleganova
    • , Viktor Teplov
    • , Valentina Teplova
    • , Tatiana Tertitsa
    • , Vladislav Timoshkin
    • , Dmitry Tirski
    • , Andrej Tolmachev
    • , Aleksey Tomilin
    • , Ludmila Tselishcheva
    • , Mirabdulla Turgunov
    • , Yurij Tyukh
    • , Polina Van
    • , Vladimir Van
    • , Aleksander Vasin
    • , Aleksandra Vasina
    • , Anatoliy Vekliuk
    • , Lidia Vetchinnikova
    • , Vladislav Vinogradov
    • , Nikolay Volodchenkov
    • , Inna Voloshina
    • , Tura Xoliqov
    • , Eugenia Yablonovska-Grishchenko
    • , Vladimir Yakovlev
    • , Marina Yakovleva
    • , Oksana Yantser
    • , Yurij Yarema
    • , Andrey Zahvatov
    • , Valery Zakharov
    • , Nicolay Zelenetskiy
    • , Anatolii Zheltukhin
    • , Tatyana Zubina
    • , Juri Kurhinen
    •  & Otso Ovaskainen

    Nature Climate Change (2021)

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