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Phenological advance in the South African Namaqualand Daisy First and Peak Bloom: 1935–2018

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Abstract

The annual Namaqualand daisy flowering spectacle is a world-renowned environmental event. Using documentary sources, including newspaper archives from The Rand Daily Mail, Volksblad and Die Burger and social media records from Flickr and iNaturalist, the first long-term phenological dataset spanning 1935–2018 was compiled for the Namaqualand region. The dataset contains first flowering, full bloom and end of bloom dates for the Namaqualand daisies. This study explores shifts in the timing of Namaqualand daisy bloom, and the role of climate in driving these phenological shifts. First flowering and full bloom phenology of the Namaqualand daisies are advancing at statistically significant rates of 2.6 days decade−1 and 2.1 days decade−1 respectively. Climatic data from seven Namaqualand weather stations, collectively spanning 1959–2018, were interrogated. For the periods spanned by both climate and phenology data, the relationships between the two were explored. Increasing temperatures are driving the calculated advances of the daisy flowering dates at statistically significant rates of change ranging from 0.01 to 0.11 days °C−1. The main climate drivers of Namaqualand daisy flowering phenology are winter and spring temperatures, the onset of the winter rainy season during April and May, and total winter precipitation. The rates of advance and climate drivers are broadly consistent with global phenological meta-analyses and records for the Southern Hemisphere. The advances in the timing of Namaqualand daisy flowering will have a significant impact on the tourism sector in the region, as flower viewing tours need to be prearranged months in advance.

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Availability of data and material

Meteorological data are available on request from the South African Weather Services. The Readex platform is available on subscription.

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Not applicable.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank SAWS for providing the climatological data for this research. We would like to thank Leonie Klootwyk and Magda Swart from Media24 who assisted in giving us access to the historical newspaper archives used to create the phenological flowering dataset.

Funding

JF receives operational support funding from the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Palaeosciences (GENUS). PS received a postgraduate merit award from the University of the Witwatersrand.

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Contributions

JF conceptualised the research project, supervised the project, determined the methodological approach and co-wrote the manuscript. PS collated the data, performed all statistical analyses and co-wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jennifer M. Fitchett.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Snyman, P.L., Fitchett, J.M. Phenological advance in the South African Namaqualand Daisy First and Peak Bloom: 1935–2018. Int J Biometeorol 66, 699–717 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-021-02229-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-021-02229-3

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