Shifting time: recent changes to the phenology of Australian species

Linda J. Beaumont*, Teagan Hartenthaler, Marie R. Keatley, Lynda E. Chambers

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)
    1 Downloads (Pure)


    Phenology is the study of the timing of recurrent biological events and their biotic and abiotic drivers. There is considerable evidence, mostly from temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, of recent changes to phenological trends, likely to be in response to anthropo genic climate disruption. Here, we assess recent evidence of climate-related phenological shifts among Australian species, across environments ranging from alpine to semi-arid. While detailed knowledge of the phenology of many Australian species has a rich history among indigenous cultures, long-term recording of phenology has focused mostly on birds and plants, particularly agricultural crops, with few records for other taxa. Combined, datasets demonstrate that over recent decades there has been a strong trend towards advanced spring phenology associated with increases in temperature. However, precipitation also plays a key role in driving trends among numerous species, particularly where the onset of the phenophase is now occurring later in the season. In general, our understanding of changes to phenology is superficial: more complicated issues, such as identifying constraints to species responses, thermal sensitivity across life-cycle stages, nonclimatic drivers of phenological trends, and disruptions to interacting species, remain poorly explored. Carefully designed studies, along with renewed interest in establishing observation networks supplemented with citizen science programs, can address some of these knowledge gaps.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-214
    Number of pages12
    JournalClimate Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Agriculture
    • Australia
    • Breeding
    • Citizen science
    • Climate change
    • Flowering
    • Migration
    • Phenology


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