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Investigating the drivers and impacts of phenological timing in invaded plant communities

Reeb, Rachel A. (2023) Investigating the drivers and impacts of phenological timing in invaded plant communities. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Accuracy in phenology, or the timing of life cycle events, is critical for plants to be able to survive and reproduce within the limited window of the growing season, synchronize with resources, and interact with other species. Plant phenology is shifting rapidly in response to climate change, which poses a major threat to the long-term success and diversity of species in plant communities. Nonnative, invasive species are an additional, potent threat to these communities, given their ability to displace native species and disrupt local interaction networks. In my dissertation research, I have broadly sought to understand how plant phenology is modified by climate change, and how such shifts in phenology impact species interactions within invaded plant communities. My first and second chapters focus on the climatic drivers of intraspecific and interspecific variation in phenology. First, I examine differences between native and invasive species in their reproductive phenology and their phenological sensitivity to climate. These results suggest that invasive species occupy an earlier phenological niche relative to native species, which may facilitate their invasion into plant communities. However, given the different sensitivities of native and invasive plants to climate, present-day patterns of phenology are likely to shift with future climate change, potentially generating novel species interactions that alter the outcomes of invasion. Second, I demonstrate that phenological responses to temperature vary widely among populations of the same species, across geographic clines in climate. Such intraspecific variation may cause uneven phenological responses to climate change, and subsequent success outcomes, across the ranges of plant species. In my third chapter, I experimentally tested the impact of phenological timing on species interactions within a network of three co-occurring invasive species. I demonstrate that phenological separation and indirect facilitation are two mechanisms that could promote the co-occurrence of multiple competitively dominant invaders. Importantly, these phenology-driven mechanisms may facilitate the continued accumulation of invasive species in plant communities. With climate change projected to drive uneven phenological shifts across populations and species, future invasion management efforts should consider the impact of changing phenology on the structure and resilience of local interaction networks.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reeb, Rachel A.RAR163@pitt.edurar1630000-0003-4402-0268
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTurcotte,
Committee MemberKitzes,
Committee MemberHeberling, Masonheberlingm@carnegieMNH.ord
Committee MemberKohl,
Committee MemberStuble,
Date: 11 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 March 2023
Approval Date: 11 May 2023
Submission Date: 28 March 2023
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 135
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Biological Sciences
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phenology, Invasive Species, Climate Change, Plant, Plasticity
Date Deposited: 11 May 2023 18:54
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 18:54


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