The roles of shifting and filtering in generating community-level flowering phenology


J. M. Craine, Div. of Biology, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66502, USA. E-mail:


Plant phenologies are key components of community assembly and ecosystem function, yet we know little about how phenological patterns differ among ecosystems. Community-level phenological patterns may be driven by the filtering of species into communities based on their phenology or by intraspecific responses to local conditions that shift when species flower. To understand the relative roles of filtering and shifting on community-level phenological patterns we compared patterns of first flowering dates (FFD) for herbaceous species at Konza Prairie, KS, USA with those from the colder Fargo, ND, USA area and from Chinnor, England, which has a less continental climate. Comparing patterns of FFD supports that Konza's flowering patterns are potentially influenced both by filtering species that flower early in the growing season and by phenological shifting. Konza species flowering dates were earlier in the spring and later in the fall compared to Fargo, but were not shifted compared to Chinnor, which had a unique suite of early-flowering species. In all, comparing flowering phenology among three sites reveals that intraspecific responses to climate can generate phenological shifts that compress or stretch community-level phenological patterns, while novel niches in phenological space can also alter community-level patterns. Community flowering patterns related to climate suggest that climatic warming has the potential to further distribute flowering of the Konza flora over a longer period, but also could further open it to introductions of non-native species that have evolved to flower early in the season.