Impact of Climate Change on Marine Pelagic Phenology and Trophic Mismatch

Nature. 2004 Aug 19;430(7002):881-4. doi: 10.1038/nature02808.

Abstract

Phenology, the study of annually recurring life cycle events such as the timing of migrations and flowering, can provide particularly sensitive indicators of climate change. Changes in phenology may be important to ecosystem function because the level of response to climate change may vary across functional groups and multiple trophic levels. The decoupling of phenological relationships will have important ramifications for trophic interactions, altering food-web structures and leading to eventual ecosystem-level changes. Temperate marine environments may be particularly vulnerable to these changes because the recruitment success of higher trophic levels is highly dependent on synchronization with pulsed planktonic production. Using long-term data of 66 plankton taxa during the period from 1958 to 2002, we investigated whether climate warming signals are emergent across all trophic levels and functional groups within an ecological community. Here we show that not only is the marine pelagic community responding to climate changes, but also that the level of response differs throughout the community and the seasonal cycle, leading to a mismatch between trophic levels and functional groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diatoms / physiology
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fishes / growth & development
  • Fishes / physiology
  • Food Chain
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Marine Biology*
  • Plankton / physiology
  • Seasons*
  • Seawater
  • Temperature