Climate warming changes synchrony of plants and pollinators

Proc Biol Sci. 2022 Mar 30;289(1971):20212142. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2021.2142. Epub 2022 Mar 30.


Climate warming changes the phenology of many species. When interacting organisms respond differently, climate change may disrupt their interactions and affect the stability of ecosystems. Here, we used global biodiversity facility occurrence records to examine phenology trends in plants and their associated insect pollinators in Germany since the 1980s. We found strong phenological advances in plants but differences in the extent of shifts among pollinator groups. The temporal trends in plant and insect phenologies were generally associated with interannual temperature variation and thus probably driven by climate change. When examining the synchrony of species-level plant-pollinator interactions, their temporal trends differed among pollinator groups. Overall, plant-pollinator interactions become more synchronized, mainly because the phenology of plants, which historically lagged behind that of the pollinators, responded more strongly to climate change. However, if the observed trends continue, many interactions may become more asynchronous again in the future. Our study suggests that climate change affects the phenologies of both plants and insects and that it also influences the synchrony of plant-pollinator interactions.

Keywords: Germany; asynchrony; climate change; global biodiversity facility; mismatch; phenology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Climate Change*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Insecta
  • Plants
  • Seasons
  • Temperature

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.v41ns1rxv