Elizabeth M. Wolkovich
Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Office: 1300 Centre Street, Boston
Ecological research on the effects of global climate change highlights that “biological spring” has shifted earlier in most parts of the world, with plants leafing and flowering approximately one week earlier than a century ago. Such work uses plant phenology—the timing of life-history events—to track responses to warming. Plant phenology is strongly linked to climate, can be easily observed, and affects important ecosystem services including water supply, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration. Thus, it is not only one of the most reported and critical indicators of climate change, it also one of the most variable—showing remarkable variation across species, habitats, and time.
My research is aimed at improving prediction of this variation by building a framework of how climate and community assembly may explain and forecast plant phenology. I thus base my research in first understanding how temperature, precipitation, irradiance, and photoperiod control phenology in both temperate and tropical systems, and investigating how coherent our understanding of plant phenological cues are from field experiments and long-term data. I build on this work to study how temporal assembly and species’ attributes may interact with phenology to shape current and future plant communities.