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Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems

Stevenson, T.J.; Visser, M.E.; Arnold, W.; Barrett, P.; Biello, S.; Dawson, A.; Denlinger, D.L.; Dominoni, D.; Ebling, F.J.; Elton, S.; Evans, N.; Ferguson, H.M.; Foster, R.G.; Hau, M.; Haydon, D.T.; Hazlerigg, D.G.; Heideman, P.; Hopcraft, J.G.C.; Jonsson, N.N.; Kronfeld-Schor, N.; Kumar, V.; Lincoln, G.A.; MacLeod, R.; Martin, S.A.M.; Martinez-Bakker, M.; Nelson, R.J.; Reed, T.; Robinson, J.E.; Rock, D.; Schwartz, W.J.; Steffan-Dewenter, I.; Tauber, E.; Thackeray, S.J.; Umstatter, C.; Yoshimura, T.; Helm, B.

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T.J. Stevenson

M.E. Visser

W. Arnold

P. Barrett

S. Biello

A. Dawson

D.L. Denlinger

D. Dominoni

F.J. Ebling

N. Evans

H.M. Ferguson

R.G. Foster

M. Hau

D.T. Haydon

D.G. Hazlerigg

P. Heideman

J.G.C. Hopcraft

N.N. Jonsson

N. Kronfeld-Schor

V. Kumar

G.A. Lincoln

R. MacLeod

S.A.M. Martin

M. Martinez-Bakker

R.J. Nelson

T. Reed

J.E. Robinson

D. Rock

W.J. Schwartz

I. Steffan-Dewenter

E. 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.


Stevenson, T., Visser, M., Arnold, W., Barrett, P., Biello, S., Dawson, A., …Helm, B. (2015). Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1817),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 15, 2015
Publication Date Oct 14, 2015
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2015
Publicly Available Date Dec 2, 2015
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2954
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 282
Issue 1817


Published Journal Article (517 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
© 2015 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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