Research File special: Global warming and phenology

Phenology (© Bureau of Land Management

Climate change inevitably affects the life cycles of plants and animals. In this special award-winning edition of the Research File, reporter Daniel Grossman explains the science of observing how rising temperatures and more intense precipitation are disrupting the life-giving links between the various species of plants and insects and birds. When these delicate links are broken and the timing is off, penguins can end up hatching their eggs in water as temperatures rise in Antarctica, for example, and new-born caterpillars starve before their food buds, which in turn means some birds don’t eat.  A deadly cycle.


  • Mary Manning: former schoolteacher and nature diarist, Norwich, England
  • Tim Sparks: statistician, researcher at the British Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Cambridgeshire, England
  • Dr. Marcel Visser: Ecologist, Researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Heteren, Netherlands
  • Dr. Bill Fraser: Biologist, Palmer Station, U.S. research base, Antarctic Peninsula

Producer: Daniel Grossman

Broadcast: May 6, 2004

This documentary garnered the American Institute for Biological Sciences media award in 2004.