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Plants with lengthened phenophases increase their dominance under warming in an alpine plant community

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  • Ji Chen
  • Yiqi Luo, Northern Arizona University
  • ,
  • Yuxin Chen, Xiamen University
  • ,
  • Andrew J. Felton, Utah State University
  • ,
  • Kelly A. Hopping, Boise State University
  • ,
  • Rui Wu Wang, Northwestern Polytechnical University Xian
  • ,
  • Shuli Niu, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Xiaoli Cheng, Yunnan University
  • ,
  • Yuefang Zhang, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences
  • ,
  • Junji Cao, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an Jiaotong University
  • ,
  • Jørgen Eivind Olesen
  • Mathias Neumann Andersen
  • Uffe Jørgensen

Predicting how shifts in plant phenology affect species dominance remains challenging, because plant phenology and species dominance have been largely investigated independently. Moreover, most phenological research has primarily focused on phenological firsts (leaf-out and first flower dates), leading to a lack of representation of phenological lasts (leaf senescence and last flower) and full phenological periods (growing season length and flower duration). Here, we simultaneously investigated the effects of experimental warming on different phenological events of various species and species dominance in an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. Warming significantly advanced phenological firsts for most species but had variable effects on phenological lasts. As a result, warming tended to extend species' full phenological periods, although this trend was not significant for all species. Experimental warming reduced community evenness and differentially impacted species dominance. Shifts in full phenological periods, rather than a single shift in phenological firsts or phenological lasts, were associated with changes in species dominance. Species with lengthened full phenological periods under warming increased their dominance. Our results advance the understanding of how altered species-specific phenophases relate to changes in community structure in response to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138891
JournalScience of the total Environment
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Dominance, First flower, Flower duration, Growing season length, Last flower, Leaf senescence, Leaf-out, Plant community composition, Tibetan Plateau

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