Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems..pdf (505.98 kB)
Download file

Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems

Download (505.98 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 18.02.2016, 10:58 by T. J. Stevenson, M. E. Visser, W. Arnold, P. Barrett, S. Biello, A. Dawson, D. L. Denlinger, D. Dominoni, F. J. Ebling, S. Elton, N. Evans, H. M. Ferguson, R. G. Foster, M. Hau, D. T. Haydon, D. G. Hazlerigg, P. Heideman, J. G. Hopcraft, N. N. Jonsson, N. Kronfeld-Schor, V. Kumar, G. A. Lincoln, R. MacLeod, S. A. Martin, M. Martinez-Bakker, R. J. Nelson, T. Reed, J. E. Robinson, D. Rock, W. J. Schwartz, I. Steffan-Dewenter, Eran Tauber, S. J. Thackeray, C. Umstatter, T. Yoshimura, B. Helm
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 review, 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.



Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2015, 282 (1817), 20151453

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/MBSP Non-Medical Departments/Department of Genetics


VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences


Royal Society, The





Acceptance date


Copyright date


Available date


Publisher version




Usage metrics