Navigation Links
An early sign of spring, earlier than ever

Record warm temperatures in 2010 and 2012 resulted in the earliest spring flowering in the eastern United States in more than 150 years, researchers at Harvard University, Boston University and the University of Wisconsin have found.

"We're seeing plants that are now flowering on average over three weeks earlier than when they were first observed and some species are flowering as much as six weeks earlier," said Charles Davis, a Harvard Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and the study's senior author. "Spring is arriving much earlier today than it has in the past."

To explain spring's early arrival, Davis and his co-authors, Boston University biology Professor Richard Primack, BU postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Ellwood and Professor Stanley Temple at the University of Wisconsin, point to temperature increases resulting from global climate change. Using data collected in Massachusetts and Wisconsin from the mid-1800s to the present day, they show that the two warmest years on record 2010 and 2012 also featured record breaking early spring flowering.

Significantly, researchers found that the early arrival of spring was predicted by historical records, and that plants haven't shown any sign of reaching a threshold for adjusting to warming temperatures.

"It appears that many spring plants keep pushing things earlier and earlier", Davis said.

To conduct the study, Davis and colleagues relied on two "incredibly unique" data sets.

"The data were initiated by Henry David Thoreau in the mid-1800s," Davis said. "He was making observations on flowering times across Concord, Massachusetts for nearly a decade. In central Wisconsin, the data were collected by environmental pioneer Aldo Leopold beginning in the mid-1930s.

"The striking finding is that we see the same pattern in Wisconsin as we see in Massachusetts," Davis said. "It's amazing that these areas are so far apart and yet we're seeing the same thingsit speaks to a larger phenomenon taking place in the eastern United States."

"Thoreau and Leopold are icons of the American environmental movement and it is astonishing that the records both kept decades ago can be used today to demonstrate the impacts of climate change on plant flowering times," Primack said.

While it's clear that continued monitoring of flowering times is needed, Davis also expressed hope that the study provides a tangible example of the potential consequences of climate change.

"The problem of climate change is so massive, the temptation is for people to tune out," Davis said. "But I think being aware that this is indeed happening is one step in the right direction of good stewardship of our planet." Davis continued. "When we talk about future climate change, it can be difficult to grasp. Humans may weather these changes reasonably well in the short-term, but many organisms in the tree of life will not fare nearly as well."

Contact: Peter Reuell
Harvard University

Related biology news :

1. Artificial womb unlocks secrets of early embryo development
2. Mid-Atlantic suburbs can expect an early spring thanks to the heat of the big city
3. An early spring drives butterfly population declines
4. Hazy shades of life on early Earth
5. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
6. Early warning system for seizures could cut false alarms
7. A new gene thought to be the cause in early-onset forms of Alzheimers disease
8. Promising developments in early diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma
9. Early detection techniques offer hope for improved outcomes in lung cancer patients
10. New study links air pollution and early death in the UK
11. Attendees Save Up To $800 on Boston-area Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Conferences, Early Bird Discounts Expiring April 27
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, ... Infrastructure, Support & Other Service  The latest ... comprehensive analysis of the global Border Security market ... of $17.98 billion in 2016. Now: In ... in software and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... 12, 2016 , a brand ... overview results from the Q1 wave of its quarterly ... was consumers, receptivity to a program where they would ... health insurance company. "We were surprised to ... Michael LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , April ... part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of ... today announced a partnership to integrate the Onegini ...      (Logo: ) ... their customers enhanced security to access and transact ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This ... introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, ... financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will ... its drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional ... has been an incredible strategic partner to us – ... would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published ... how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from ... the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Andrew D ... Published recently in ... from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses ... care is placing an increasing burden on healthcare ... therapies. With the patents on many biologics expiring, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: