Sonoran Desert Plant Species Flowering Earlier Due to Climate Change

Jan. 10, 2022
Olneya tesota in flower, Old Tucson, Arizona.

Ken Bosma, Creative Commons

Understanding climate change impacts on the flowering of desert plant species is important for anticipating the future ability of plants to attract pollinators, reproduce, and persist under continued climate change. SW CASC-funded researchers used statistical models to expand on existing research and determine how the flowering of six Sonoran Desert woody species may respond to climate change, and which climate factors influence the probability of flowering. They found that, in addition to temperature, moisture availability was also an important determinant of the timing of flowering for some species. For five of the species studied, the researchers documented a trend towards earlier flowering on the order of 1-4 days per decade, and no trend for one species. They also note contrasting responses between species to different aspects of climate, suggesting that the flowering patterns of plant communities could diverge under future climate change.