Climate warming: a loss of variation in populations can accompany reproductive shifts

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Abstract

The most documented response of organisms to climate warming is a change in the average timing of seasonal activities (phenology). Although we know that these average changes can differ among species and populations, we do not know whether climate warming impacts within-population variation in phenology. Using data from five study sites collected during a 13-year survey, we found that the increase in spring temperatures is associated with a reproductive advance of 10 days in natural populations of common lizards (Zootoca vivipara). Interestingly, we show a correlated loss of variation in reproductive dates within populations. As illustrated by a model, this shortening of the reproductive period can have significant negative effects on population dynamics. Consequently, we encourage tests in other species to assess the generality of decreased variation in phenological responses to climate change.

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