Department of Neurology
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Environmental Studies | Neuroscience and Neurobiology
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.
annual, biological rhythm, circannual, desynchrony, fitness, one-health
Rights and Permissions
Copyright 2015 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
DOI of Published Version
Proc Biol Sci. 2015 Oct 22;282(1817). pii: 20151453. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1453. Link to article on publisher's site
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
Stevenson TJ, Visser ME, Arnold W, Barrett P, Biello S, Dawson A, Denlinger DL, Dominoni D, Ebling FJ, Elton S, Schwartz WJ. (2015). Disrupted seasonal biology impacts health, food security and ecosystems. Open Access Articles. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.1453. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/oapubs/2585
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.