Elizabeth Wolkovich


Elizabeth Wolkovich

Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Visiting Scholar in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology



PhD Biology (2009), Dartmouth College
BA Biology (2002), Wellesley College

Research Interests

Ecological research on the effects of global climate change highlights that “biological spring” has shifted earlier in most parts of the world, with plants leafing and flowering approximately one week earlier than a century ago. Such work uses plant phenology—the timing of life-history events—to track responses to warming. Plant phenology is strongly linked to climate, can be easily observed, and affects important ecosystem services including water supply, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration. Thus, it is not only one of the most reported and critical indicators of climate change, it also one of the most variable—showing remarkable variation across species, habitats, and time.

My research is aimed at improving prediction of this variation by building a framework of how climate and community assembly may explain and forecast plant phenology. I thus base my research in first understanding how temperature, precipitation, irradiance, and photoperiod control phenology in both temperate and tropical systems, and investigating how coherent our understanding of plant phenological cues are from field experiments and long-term data. I build on this work to study how temporal assembly and species’ attributes may interact with phenology to shape current and future plant communities.

Recent Publications

  • Wolkovich, E.M., B.I. Cook, and T.J. Davies. (In press). Progress towards an interdisciplinary science of plant phenology: Building predictions across space, time and species diversity. New Phytologist.
  • Wolkovich, E.M., T.J. Davies, H. Schaefer, E.E. Cleland, B.I. Cook, S.E. Travers, C.G. Willis, and C.C. Davis. 2013. Phenology and plant invasions: Climate change contributes to exotic species’ success in temperature-limited systems. American Journal of Botany 100(7): 1407-1421.
  • Pau, S., E.M. Wolkovich, B.I. Cook, C. Nytch, J. Regetz, J.K. Zimmerman, and S.J. Wright. 2013. Clouds and temperature drive dynamic changes in tropical flower production. Nature Climate Change 3: 838-842.
  • Wolkovich, E.M. and 18 co-authors. 2012. Warming experiments underpredict plant phenological responses to climate change. Nature 485 (7399): 494-497.
  • Wolkovich, E.M., J. Regetz, and M.I. O’Connor. 2012. Advances in global change research require open science by individual researchers. Global Change Biology 18(7): 2102-2110.
  • Cook, B.I., E.M. Wolkovich, and C. Parmesan. 2012. Divergent responses to spring and winter warming explain community level flowering trends. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(3): 9000-9005.
  • Cleland, E.E., J.M. Allen, T.M. Crimmins, J.A. Dunne, S. Pau, S.E. Travers, E.S. Zavaleta, and E.M. Wolkovich. 2012. Phenological tracking enables positive species responses to climate change. Ecology 93(8): 1765-1771.
  • Davies, T.J., N.B.J. Kraft, N. Salamin, and E.M. Wolkovich. 2012. Incompletely resolved phylogenetic trees inflate estimates of phylogenetic conservatism. Ecology 93(2): 242-247.