|Shifting seasonal patterns of water availability: ecosystem responses to an unappreciated dimension of climate change
|Year of Publication
|Hajek, OL, Knapp, AK
Seasonal patterns of water availability can differ dramatically among ecosystems, with well-known consequences for ecosystem structure and functioning. Less appreciated is that climate change can shift the seasonality of water availability (e.g. to wetter springs, drier summers), resulting in both subtle and profound ecological impacts. Here we (1) review evidence that the seasonal availability of water is being altered in ecosystems worldwide, (2) explore several mechanisms potentially driving these changes, and (3) highlight the breadth of ecological consequences resulting from shifts in the seasonality of water availability. We conclude that seasonal patterns of water availability are changing globally, but in regionally specific ways requiring more rigorous and nuanced assessments of ecosystem vulnerability as well as the ecological consequences.