Scale gaps in landscape phenology: challenges and opportunities

Trends Ecol Evol. 2021 Aug;36(8):709-721. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2021.04.008. Epub 2021 May 8.


Phenology, or the timing of life history events, can be heterogeneous across biological communities and landscapes and can vary across a wide variety of spatiotemporal scales. Here, we synthesize information from landscape phenology studies across different scales of measurement around a set of core concepts. We highlight why phenology is scale dependent and identify gaps in the spatiotemporal scales of phenological observations and inferences. We discuss the consequences of these gaps and describe opportunities to address the inherent sensitivities of phenological metrics to measurement scale. Although most studies we review and discuss are focused on plants, our work provides a broadly relevant overview of the role of observation scale in landscape phenology and a general approach for measuring and reporting scale dependence.

Keywords: climate change; environmental heterogeneity; landscape ecology; scaling; spatiotemporal resolution; statistical aggregation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Plants*
  • Seasons