Climate change is unraveling natural cycles in the West

The Extinction Chronicles

Spring’s early arrival creates more mismatches in ecosystems.

From an astronomical perspective, the first day of spring is the spring equinox, the day when the sun passes directly above the equator, occurring around March 21 each year. From a biological perspective, spring arrives when plants and animals respond to an accumulation of seasonal signals, such as growing warmth or longer days. Plants bud, birds fly north and insects emerge from tree holes and leaf litter. This seasonal timing of plant and animal life stages is called phenology.

This spring, wildflowers filled California’s Carrizo Plain National Monument, a grassland in the Central Valley.
Beth Pearson King/BLM

For many plants, warming days are one of the main signals that it’s…

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