Study suggests climate change is affecting cranberry development

Perhaps the most interesting finding of this research (at least to us as entomologists!) is the ecological mismatch potentially created between the cranberry plant and one of its established regional pests.  This could have concrete implications for pest management.

Cranberry flowering times and climate change in southern Massachusetts


Plants in wild and agricultural settings are being affected by the warmer temperatures associated with climate change. Here we examine the degree to which the iconic New England cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is exhibiting signs of altered flowering phenology. Using contemporary records from commercial cranberry bogs in southeastern Massachusetts in the United States, we found that cranberry plants are responsive to temperature. Flowering is approximately 2 days earlier for each 1 °C increase in May temperature. We also investigated the relationship between cranberry flowering and flight dates of the bog copper, Lycaena epixanthe—a butterfly dependent upon cranberry plants in its larval stage. Cranberry flowering and bog copper emergence were found to be changing disproportionately over time, suggesting a potential ecological mismatch. The pattern of advanced cranberry flowering over time coupled with increased temperature has implications not only for the relationship between cranberry plants and their insect associates but also for agricultural crops in general and for the commercial cranberry industry.

If you are interested in reading the full article, here is the publication information and a link to purchase it:

Ellwood, E.R., S.R. Playfair, C.A. Polgar, and R.B. Primack. 2013.  Cranberry flowering times and climate change in southern Massachusetts.  Int J Biometeorology. September. doi: 10.1007/s00484-013-0719-y.