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Timing is Everything: The Impacts of Changes in Phenology

A Janet Meakin Poor Research Symposium

Monday, June 12, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Alsdorf Auditorium

$59 nonmember/$47.20 member
$29 with student ID; call (847) 835-6801 to register at this rate

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Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events such as plant flowering and fruiting and animal migrations. This timing is critical for relationships between species; plants need to bloom when their pollinators are present, birds and insects need to hatch or migrate when food is available, and so on. As the climate changes some phenological events are also changing, which can disrupt these important relationships. This symposium will look at phenological change: how to assess it, and what it means for population dynamics of plants and their relationships with other species. Lunch is on your own. Please bring a sack lunch or visit the Garden View Café.


8:30 a.m.

Check-in Opens

9 a.m.

Welcome Remarks
Kayri Havens, Ph.D., Medard and Elizabeth Welch director, plant science and conservation, Chicago Botanic Garden

9:05 a.m.

The Timing of Ecological Interactions: From Existing Variation to the Consequences of Climate Change
Paul CaraDonna, Ph.D., conservation scientist, community ecology and pollination ecology, Chicago Botanic Garden

This talk begins with an overview of phenology, including its significance in nature and what is happening to it under climate change. We will then explore these general topics more closely using a series of case studies focusing on plants and pollinators from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

9:50 a.m.

Herbivory Through the Ages: Revealing Effects of Climate on Insect Herbivory with Herbarium Specimens
Emily Meineke, Ph.D., NSF postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University Herbaria, University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum of Denmark

Hear about how herbarium specimens are used to determine how climate has affected plant phenology and insect herbivory over the last 115 years.

10:25 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:50 a.m.

Alternative Interpretations of Phenological Responses to Climate Change
Susana Wadgymar, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, University of Georgia, evolutionary ecology, quanitative genetics, plant ecology, conservation biology, climate change

Shifts in the timing of life history events represent some of the most conspicuous biological indicators of the effects of climate change on natural populations. However, our interpretation of the extent that environmental change is affecting these traits is contingent upon the methods used to record and present phenological data. This talk demonstrates how the same set of data can be configured to yield alternative depictions of phenological responses to climate change.

11:25 a.m.

Fungal Phenology: A Hidden Dimension of Global Change
Jeff Diez, Ph.D., assistant professor of plant ecology, University of California, Riverside

Fungi are critical components of ecosystems worldwide but their responses to changing climate are less understood than that of plants and animals. This talk will give an overview of what we currently know about fungal responses to climate change, and will highlight the possible implications of these ongoing changes.


Brown Bag Lunch
Bring your own lunch or purchase one in the Garden View Café.

1:30 p.m.

The Role of Phenology in Community and Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change and Invasion
Elsa Cleland, Ph.D., associate professor, ecology behavior & evolution section, University of California, San Diego

Accumulating evidence suggests that exotic plant species in many areas have phenology that is distinct from native species. For example, the native shrub-dominated communities of Southern California are becoming increasingly invaded by exotic annual grasses that germinate earlier in the growing season, and under a wider set of environmental conditions than their native counterparts. This lecture will summarize work showing the costs and benefits of early phenology for both native and invading species, as well as consequences of these invasions for community assembly, and ecosystem responses to environmental changes such as drought.

2:05 p.m.

The Early Flower Attracts the Bee: Consequences and Mechanisms of Phenological Isolation in Plants
Jennifer Ison, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, the College of Wooster

Flowering time can phenologically isolate plants, limiting mating opportunities between neighboring plants and reducing seed set. This talk will discuss how phenological isolation affects native plant populations. It will also examine how insect pollinator visitation rates and foraging behavior change over the course of a flowering season.

2:40 p.m.

Stretch Break

2:55 p.m.

Implementing Project BudBurst: Citizen Science, Phenology, and Project BudBurst
Sarah Jean Newman, research associate & community engagement strategist,
Natural Resource Ecology Lab, Colorado State University

Do you notice the plants you pass by every day? Are they blooming, leafing out, or changing color? You can make a valuable contribution to science by sharing your plant observations as a citizen scientist with Project BudBurst. Come along with us and learn how.

3:30 p.m.

Discussion and Q&A

3:45 p.m.

Symposium Ends



The Janet Meakin Poor Research Symposium is partially endowed by the friends of Janet Meakin Poor, a Chicago-area conservationist and landscape designer dedicated to preserving natural habitats. This symposium is developed in a long-standing partnership between the Plant Science and Conservation department and the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden.


Symposium Location

The symposium will be held in the Alsdorf Auditorium of the Regenstein Center at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. Directions to the Garden can be found here.



The Regenstein School of the Chicago Botanic Garden recommends the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel for accommodations.