Data_Sheet_3_Does Phenological Plasticity Help or Hinder Range Shifts Under Climate Change?.pdf
Climate warming is predicted to shift species’ ranges as previously uninhabitable environments just beyond the leading range edges become suitable habitat and trailing range edges become increasingly unsuitable. Understanding which aspects of the environment and species traits mediate these range shifts is critical for understanding species’ possible redistributions under global change, yet we have a limited understanding of the ecological and evolutionary responses underlying population spread or extinction at species’ range edges. Within plant populations, shifts in flowering phenology have been one of the strongest and most consistent responses to climate change, and are likely to play an important role in mediating population dynamics within and beyond species’ ranges. However, the role of phenological shifts, and particularly phenological plasticity, in species’ range shifts remains relatively unstudied. Here, we synthesize literature on phenology, plasticity, and adaptation to suggest ways in which phenological responses to climate may vary across species’ ranges and review the empirical evidence for and against these hypotheses. We then outline how phenological plasticity could facilitate or hinder persistence and potential consequences of phenological plasticity in range expansions, including phenological cues, shifts in correlated traits, altered species interactions, and effects on gene flow. Finally, we suggest future avenues for research, such as characterizing reaction norms for phenology across a species’ range and in beyond-the-range transplant experiments. Given the prevalence and magnitude of phenological shifts, future work should carefully dissect its costs and benefits for population persistence, and incorporate phenological plasticity into models predicting species’ persistence and geographic range shifts under climate change.