Canadian Forest Service Publications

Process-based models of phenology for plants and animals. 2017. Chuine, I.; Régnière, J. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 48: 159-182.

Year: 2017

Available from: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 38381

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)


Phenology is a key aspect of plant and animal life strategies that determines the ability to capture seasonally variable resources. It defines the season and duration of growth and reproduction and paces ecological interactions and ecosystem functions. Phenology models have become a key component of models in agronomy, forestry, ecology, and biogeosciences. Plant and animal process-based phenology models have taken different paths that have so far no crossed. Yet, they share many features because plant and animal annual cycles also share many characteristics, from their stepwise progression, including a resting period, to their dependence on similar environmental factors. We review the strengths and shortcomings of these models and the divergences in modeling approaches for plants and animals, which are mostly due to specificities of the questions they tackle. Finally, we discuss the most promising avenues and the challenges phenology modeling needs to address in the upcoming years.

Plain Language Summary

In this study, the researchers describe and demonstrate how the phenological models used for plants and animals in extratropical regions share many common features. To do so, they reviewed various models that describe relationships between physiological processes and environmental factors in these regions. The researchers noted the similarities, differences, strengths and weaknesses of these models in describing and predicting the biological cycles of living organisms in response to environmental factors.

The convergence of the physiological processes shared by these plants and animals probably reflects the similar constraints encountered by both types of organisms in these regions of the world, and the measures they have developed to adapt to these conditions.

Phenology is the study of the occurrence of periodic events (most often yearly) in the biological cycle of the living world as determined by seasonal variations in climate.

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