, Volume 146, Issue 3, pp 484–495 | Cite as

Phenology and climate change: a long-term study in a Mediterranean locality

  • Oscar GordoEmail author
  • Juan José Sanz
Global Change Ecology


It is well documented that plant and animal phenology is changing in response to recent climate warming in the Palaearctic. However, few long-term data sets are currently available in the Mediterranean basin. The present study reports long-term temporal trends of several phenophases of 45 plants, 4 insects and 6 migratory insectivorous birds. Dynamic factor analyses performed with plant phenophases showed that most of those events occurring at spring and summer had common trends toward the advancement, especially since mid-1970s. However, during these last decades, insect phenology showed a steeper advance than plant phenology, suggesting an increase of decoupling of some plant–insect interactions, such as those between pollinators and flowers or herbivorous insects and their plant resources. All trans-Saharan bird species showed highly significant temporal trends in all studied phenophases (some of them covering most of the last century). In two species, the duration of stay is increasing due to both earlier arrivals and later departures. On the other hand, two wintering species showed a significant advancement in their arrival dates, while an opposite pattern were found for departures of each one. Only one of these species increased significantly its wintering stay. Bird departures were not related to local climate in any species. Our results demonstrate a key role of local temperatures behind interannual variability of most plant and insects phenophases, with especial emphasis in those occurring in spring and summer. Therefore, the common signal towards the advancement recorded since mid-1970s resulted from the recent rise in temperatures.


Dynamic factor analysis Insects Migratory birds Plants Plant–insect interactions 



The authors are very grateful to the Observatori de l’Ebre and especially to J. Germán Solé for providing unpublished data. We also thank to the three anonymous referees for their valuable comments which greatly improved the manuscript. O. G. acknowledges the MECD for the financial support of a Doctoral Fellowship of the FPU programme (ref. AP2002–1439). J. J. S. received financial support from the Spanish MCyT (project REN2001-0611/GLO).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats)Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)MadridSpain

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