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Earlier Migration Timing, Decreasing Phenotypic Variation, and Biocomplexity in Multiple Salmonid Species

TitleEarlier Migration Timing, Decreasing Phenotypic Variation, and Biocomplexity in Multiple Salmonid Species
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsKovach, RP, Joyce, JE, Echave, JD, Lindberg, MS, Tallmon, DA
JournalPLOS One

Climate-induced phenological shifts can influence population, evolutionary, and ecological dynamics, but our understanding of these phenomena is hampered by a lack of long-term demographic data. We use a multi-decade census of 5 salmonid species representing 14 life histories in a warming Alaskan stream to address the following key questions about climate change and phenology: How consistent are temporal patterns and drivers of phenology for similar species and alternative life histories? Are shifts in phenology associated with changes in phenotypic variation? How do phenological changes influence the availability of resource subsidies? For most salmonid species, life stages, and life histories, freshwater temperature influences migration timing – migration events are occurring earlier in time (mean = 1.7 days earlier per decade over the 3–5 decades), and the number of days over which migration events occur is decreasing (mean = 1.5 days per decade). Temporal trends in migration timing were not correlated with changes in intra-annual phenotypic variation, suggesting that these components of the phenotypic distribution have responded to environmental change independently. Despite commonalities across species and life histories, there was important biocomplexity in the form of disparate shifts in migration timing and variation in the environmental factors influencing migration timing for alternative life history strategies in the same population. Overall, adult populations have been stable during these phenotypic and environmental changes (l <1.0), but the temporal availability of salmon as a resource in freshwater has decreased by nearly 30 days since 1971 due to changes in the median date of migration timing and decreases in intraannual variation in migration timing. These novel observations advance our understanding of phenological change in response to climate warming, and indicate that climate change has influenced the ecology of salmon populations, whichwill have important consequences for the numerous species that depend on this resource.

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