Impacts of climate change on reproductive phenology in tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia

Commun Biol. 2022 Apr 21;5(1):311. doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03245-8.


In humid forests in Southeast Asia, many species from dozens of plant families flower gregariously and fruit synchronously at irregular multi-year intervals1-4. Little is known about how climate change will impact these community-wide mass reproductive events. Here, we perform a comprehensive analysis of reproductive phenology and its environmental drivers based on a monthly reproductive phenology record from 210 species in 41 families in Peninsular Malaysia. We find that the proportion of flowering and fruiting species decreased from 1976 to 2010. Using a phenology model, we find that 57% of species in the Dipterocarpaceae family respond to both drought and low-temperature cues for flowering. We show that low-temperature flowering cues will become less available in the future in the RCP2.6 and 8.5 scenarios, leading to decreased flowering opportunities of these species in a wide region from Thailand to the island of Borneo. Our results highlight the vulnerability of and variability in phenological responses across species in tropical ecosystems that differ from temperate and boreal biomes.

MeSH terms

  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Climate Change*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Rainforest
  • Seasons