In documenting biological responses to climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has used phenology studies from many parts of the world, hut data from the high latitudes of North America are missing. In the present article, we evaluate climate trends and the corresponding changes in sequential bloom times for seven plant species in the central parklands of Alberta, Canada (latitude 52°–57° north). For the study period of 71 years (1936–2006), we found a substantial warming signal, which ranged from an increase of 5.3 degrees Celsius CC) in the mean monthly temperatures for February to an increase of 1.5°C in those for May. The earliest-blooming species' (Populus tremuloides and Anemone patens) bloom dates advanced by two weeks during the seven decades, whereas the later-blooming species' bloom dates advanced between zero and six days. The early-blooming species' bloom dates advanced faster than was predicted by thermal time models, which we attribute to decreased diurnal temperature fluctuations. This unexpectedly sensitive response results in an increased exposure to late-spring frosts.
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Vol. 61 • No. 7