I am a NERC-funded PhD student in the Phillimore group at the University of Edinburgh working on woodland ecology and phenology. The overarching aim of our research is to contribute to understanding how populations and communities will react and change to future predicted climate change.
Increasing temperatures have seen spring advance in recent decades. Phenological mismatch can occur when different organisms within an ecosystem advance dissimilarly and consumer and resource become temporally asynchronous. This can have considerable negative effects on consumer productivity and fitness. A well-known example of this is the oak - caterpillar - insectivorous bird system, wherein breeding attempts are detrimentally becoming less synchronous with spring caterpillar peaks. However, to better predict landscape-level effects it is essential to understand the mechanisms underlying the phenological timings and how phenology and resource abundance vary geographically and by habitat.
We hope to address these issues using a custom-made and unique 200km transect across Scotland incorporating 40 woodlands, sampling from a range of elevations, latitudes, habitats and temperatures.