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1.  Elevation-Dependent Temperature Trends in the Rocky Mountain Front Range: Changes over a 56- and 20-Year Record 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44370.
Determining the magnitude of climate change patterns across elevational gradients is essential for an improved understanding of broader climate change patterns and for predicting hydrologic and ecosystem changes. We present temperature trends from five long-term weather stations along a 2077-meter elevational transect in the Rocky Mountain Front Range of Colorado, USA. These trends were measured over two time periods: a full 56-year record (1953–2008) and a shorter 20-year (1989–2008) record representing a period of widely reported accelerating change. The rate of change of biological indicators, season length and accumulated growing-degree days, were also measured over the 56 and 20-year records. Finally, we compared how well interpolated Parameter-elevation Regression on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) datasets match the quality controlled and weather data from each station. Our results show that warming signals were strongest at mid-elevations over both temporal scales. Over the 56-year record, most sites show warming occurring largely through increases in maximum temperatures, while the 20-year record documents warming associated with increases in maximum temperatures at lower elevations and increases in minimum temperatures at higher elevations. Recent decades have also shown a shift from warming during springtime to warming in July and November. Warming along the gradient has contributed to increases in growing-degree days, although to differing degrees, over both temporal scales. However, the length of the growing season has remained unchanged. Finally, the actual and the PRISM interpolated yearly rates rarely showed strong correlations and suggest different warming and cooling trends at most sites. Interpretation of climate trends and their seasonal biases in the Rocky Mountain Front Range are dependent on both elevation and the temporal scale of analysis. Given mismatches between interpolated data and the directly measured station data, we caution against an over-reliance on interpolation methods for documenting local patterns of climatic change.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044370
PMCID: PMC3435419  PMID: 22970205
2.  Resource quality or competition: why increase resource acceptance in the presence of conspecifics? 
Behavioral Ecology  2011;22(4):730-737.
Some animal species increase resource acceptance rates in the presence of conspecifics. Such responses may be adaptive if the presence of conspecifics is a reliable indicator of resource quality. Similarly, these responses could represent an adaptive reduction in choosiness under high levels of scramble competition. Although high resource quality and high levels of scramble competition should both favor increased resource acceptance, the contexts in which the increase occurs should differ. In this paper, we tested the effect of social environment on egg-laying and aggressive behavior in the walnut fly, Rhagoletis juglandis, in multiple contexts to determine whether increased resource acceptance in the presence of conspecifics was better viewed as a response to increased host quality or increased competition. We found that grouped females oviposit more readily than isolated females when provided small (low-quality) artificial hosts but not when provided large (high-quality) artificial hosts, indicating that conspecific presence reduces choosiness. Increased resource acceptance was observed even when exposure to conspecifics was temporally or spatially separate from exposure to the resource. Finally, we found that individuals showed reduced aggression after being housed in groups, as expected under high levels of scramble competition. These results indicate that the pattern of resource acceptance in the presence of conspecifics may be better viewed as a response to increased scramble competition rather than as a response to public information about resource quality.
doi:10.1093/beheco/arr042
PMCID: PMC3117901  PMID: 22479135
conspecific attraction; experience; host choice; Rhagoletis; social facilitation; social information
3.  Grasshopper Community Response to Climatic Change: Variation Along an Elevational Gradient 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12977.
Background
The impacts of climate change on phenological responses of species and communities are well-documented; however, many such studies are correlational and so less effective at assessing the causal links between changes in climate and changes in phenology. Using grasshopper communities found along an elevational gradient, we present an ideal system along the Front Range of Colorado USA that provides a mechanistic link between climate and phenology.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This study utilizes past (1959–1960) and present (2006–2008) surveys of grasshopper communities and daily temperature records to quantify the relationship between amount and timing of warming across years and elevations, and grasshopper timing to adulthood. Grasshopper communities were surveyed at four sites, Chautauqua Mesa (1752 m), A1 (2195 m), B1 (2591 m), and C1 (3048 m), located in prairie, lower montane, upper montane, and subalpine life zones, respectively. Changes to earlier first appearance of adults depended on the degree to which a site warmed. The lowest site showed little warming and little phenological advancement. The next highest site (A1) warmed a small, but significant, amount and grasshopper species there showed inconsistent phenological advancements. The two highest sites warmed the most, and at these sites grasshoppers showed significant phenological advancements. At these sites, late-developing species showed the greatest advancements, a pattern that correlated with an increase in rate of late-season warming. The number of growing degree days (GDDs) associated with the time to adulthood for a species was unchanged across the past and present surveys, suggesting that phenological advancement depended on when a set number of GDDs is reached during a season.
Conclusions
Our analyses provide clear evidence that variation in amount and timing of warming over the growing season explains the vast majority of phenological variation in this system. Our results move past simple correlation and provide a stronger process-oriented and predictive framework for understanding community level phenological responses to climate change.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012977
PMCID: PMC2944887  PMID: 20886093

Results 1-3 (3)