Marine plankton phenology and life history in a changing climate: current research and future directions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Increasing availability and extent of biological ocean time series (from both in situ and satellite data) have helped reveal significant phenological variability of marine plankton. The extent to which the range of this variability is modified as a result of climate change is of obvious importance. Here we summarize recent research results on phenology of both phytoplankton and zooplankton. We suggest directions to better quantify and monitor future plankton phenology shifts, including (i) examining the main mode of expected future changes (ecological shifts in timing and spatial distribution to accommodate fixed environmental niches vs. evolutionary adaptation of timing controls to maintain fixed biogeography and seasonality), (ii) broader understanding of phenology at the species and community level (e.g. for zooplankton beyond Calanus and for phytoplankton beyond chlorophyll), (iii) improving and diversifying statistical metrics for indexing timing and trophic synchrony and (iv) improved consideration of spatio-temporal scales and the Lagrangian nature of plankton assemblages to separate time from space changes.

publication date

  • October 2010