Phenological niches and the future of invaded ecosystems with climate change

13061In recent years, research in invasion biology has focused increasing attention on understanding the role of phenology in shaping plant invasions. Multiple studies have found non-native species that tend to flower distinctly early or late in the growing season, advance more with warming or have shifted earlier with climate change compared to native species. In a new article published in AoB PLANTS, Wolkovich and Cleland review recent evidence that non-native and invasive plant species may have distinct timings of their seasonal life history characteristics (such as date of leaf out or flowering, that is, their phenology) that allow them to establish in new communities. In particular they examine how invasions may be bolstered by the longer growing seasons associated with climate change. Based on current knowledge of plant phenology and growth strategies—especially rapid growing, early-flowering species versus later-flowering species that make slower-return investments in growth—they project optimal periods for invasions across three distinct systems under current climate change scenarios.