Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 149–162 | Cite as

(A bit) Earlier or later is always better: Phenological shifts in consumer–resource interactions

  • Tomás A. Revilla
  • Francisco Encinas-Viso
  • Michel Loreau


Phenology is a crucial life history trait for species interactions and it can have great repercussions on the persistence of communities and ecosystems. Changes in phenology caused by climate change can disrupt species interactions causing decreases in consumer growth rates, as suggested by the match–mismatch hypothesis (MMH). However, it is still not clear what the long-term consequences of such phenological changes are. In this paper, we present models in which phenology and consumer–resource feedbacks determine long-term community dynamics. Our results show that consumer viability is constrained by limits in the amount of phenological mismatch with their resources, in accordance with the MMH, but the effects of phenological shifts are often nonmonotonic. Consumers generally have higher abundances when they recruit some time before or after their resources because this reduces the long-term effects of overexploitation that would otherwise occur under closer synchrony. Changes in the duration of recruitment phenologies also have important impacts on community stability, with shorter phenologies promoting oscillations and cycles. For small community modules, the effects of phenological shifts on populations can be explained, to a great extent, as superpositions of their effects on consumer–resource pairs. We highlight that consumer–resource feedbacks and overexploitation, which are not typically considered in phenological models, are important factors shaping the long-term responses to phenological changes caused by climate change.


Phenology Trophic interactions Recruitment Overexploitation Climate change Match–mismatch hypothesis 



We thank Dorixa Monsalve, Harold Perez de Vladar, and Jarad Mellard for comments of earlier versions of this paper. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for comments and criticisms that greatly improved this paper. TAR and ML thank the support by the TULIP Laboratory of Excellence (ANR-10-LABX-41).

Supplementary material

12080_2013_207_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.9 mb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomás A. Revilla
    • 1
  • Francisco Encinas-Viso
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michel Loreau
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Biodiversity Theory and ModellingStation d’Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRSMoulisFrance
  2. 2.CSIRO Plant IndustryCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Community and Conservation EcologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenthe Netherlands

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