Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems

Stevenson, T.J.; Visser, M.E.; Arnold, W.; Barrett, P.; Biello, S.; Dawson, A.; Denlinger, D.L.; Dominoni, D.; Ebling, F.J.; Elton, S.; Evans, N.; Ferguson, H.M.; Foster, R.G.; Hau, M.; Haydon, D.T.; Hazlerigg, D.G.; Heideman, P.; Hopcraft, J.G.C.; Jonsson, N.N.; Kronfeld-Schor, N.; Kumar, V.; Lincoln, G.A.; MacLeod, R.; Martin, S.A.M.; Martinez-Bakker, M.; Nelson, R.J.; Reed, T.; Robinson, J.E.; Rock, D.; Schwartz, W.J.; Steffan-Dewenter, I.; Tauber, E.; Thackeray, S.J.; Umstatter, C.; Yoshimura, T.; Helm, B.. 2015 Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 282 (1817), 20151453.

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The rhythm of life on earth is shaped by seasonal changes in the environment. Plants and animals show profound annual cycles in physiology, health, morphology, behaviour and demography in response to environmental cues. Seasonal biology impacts ecosystems and agriculture, with consequences for humans and biodiversity. Human populations show robust annual rhythms in health and well-being, and the birth month can have lasting effects that persist throughout life. This review emphasizes the need for a better understanding of seasonal biology against the backdrop of its rapidly progressing disruption through climate change, human lifestyles, and other anthropogenic impact. Climate change is modifying annual rhythms to which numerous organisms have adapted, with potential consequences for industries relating to health, ecosystems and food security. Disconcertingly, human lifestyles under artificial conditions of eternal summer provide the most extreme example for disconnect from natural seasons, making humans vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality. In this paper, we introduce scenarios of seasonal disruption, highlight key aspects of seasonal biology, and summarize from biomedical, anthropological, veterinary, agricultural and environmental perspectives the recent evidence for seasonal desynchronization between environmental factors and internal rhythms. Because annual rhythms are pervasive across biological systems, they provide a common framework for trans-disciplinary research.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Parr
ISSN: 0962-8452
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: phenology, seasonal rhythm, annual, fitness, desynchrony, one-health, biological rhythm, circannual
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Nov 2015 10:42 +0 (UTC)

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