Abstract Detail

Biodiversity Informatics & Herbarium Digitization

Park, Daniel [1], Breckheimer, Ian [1], Ellison, Aaron [2], Davis, Charles [1].

Digitized herbaria reveal substantial variation in plant phenological responses to climate across the eastern United States.

It is well-established that plant phenology is responsive to climate, but the data necessary to assess the direction, magnitude, and mechanism(s) of phenological response are non-existent for most species. Herbarium specimens represent snapshots of phenological events (e.g., flowering, fruiting) at specific places, times, and climates, and are greatly helping to break this impasse. In particular, massively digitized herbaria, are an underused resource that can ameliorate the large spatial, temporal, and taxonomic gaps in observational phenological data. Using phenological data crowdsourced from thousands of herbarium specimens, we demonstrate that phenological sensitivity to climate varies significantly across and within species. Further, we find that the temporal overlap between closely related species may change across their co-occurring ranges. Together, these results suggest that variation in phenological sensitivity to climate could manifest as significant changes in patterns of gene flow across species and populations. Our efforts demonstrate that the millions of herbarium specimens already mobilized online are playing a critical role in revealing large-scale phenological patterns and will improve forecasts of the impacts of climatic change on the evolution, structure and function of ecosystems.

1 - Harvard University, 22 Divinity Avenue, Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, United States
2 - Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA, USA

herbarium specimen images
citizen science
climate change.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Abstract ID:937
Candidate for Awards:None

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