Journal article

Biological indicators of climate change: evidence from long-term flowering records of plants along the Victorian coast, Australia

Libby Rumpff, Fiona Coates, John W Morgan



We investigate the utility of using historical data sources to track changes in flowering time of coastal species in south-eastern Australia in response to recent climate warming. Studies of this nature in the southern hemisphere are rare, mainly because of a paucity of long-term data sources. Despite this, we found there is considerable potential to utilise existing data sourced from herbaria collections and field naturalists' notes and diaries to identify native plant species suitable as biological indicators of climate change. Of 101 candidate species investigated in the present study, eight were identified as showing a general trend towards earlier flowering over time, indicating a corre..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Alison Vaughan (RBG Melbourne), Nicole Middleton (Melbourne University) and Heidi Zimmer (ARI) for assistance with herbarium searches; Terri Allen (South Gippsland Conservation Society) and Bon Thompson (Traralgon Field Naturalists) for providing phenological records and general suggestions regarding this research; Eulalie Hill and other members of South Gippsland Conservation Society, members of ANGAIR, Sera Cutler (La Trobe University), and members of the Bairnsdale and District Field Naturalists Club for general discussion and access to information; Timothy Forster (Australian Bureau of Meteorology) for providing climate records; Yung En Chee for assistance with ANUCLIM; and Jane Catford and Joslin Moore for initial comments on the manuscript. Ian Mansergh initiated the project, which was funded by the Greenhouse Policy Unit, DSE.