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Title: Nine Maxims for the Ecology of Cold-Climate Winters
Abstract Frozen winters define life at high latitudes and altitudes. However, recent, rapid changes in winter conditions have highlighted our relatively poor understanding of ecosystem function in winter relative to other seasons. Winter ecological processes can affect reproduction, growth, survival, and fitness, whereas processes that occur during other seasons, such as summer production, mediate how organisms fare in winter. As interest grows in winter ecology, there is a need to clearly provide a thought-provoking framework for defining winter and the pathways through which it affects organisms. In the present article, we present nine maxims (concise expressions of a fundamentally held principle or truth) for winter ecology, drawing from the perspectives of scientists with diverse expertise. We describe winter as being frozen, cold, dark, snowy, less productive, variable, and deadly. Therefore, the implications of winter impacts on wildlife are striking for resource managers and conservation practitioners. Our final, overarching maxim, “winter is changing,” is a call to action to address the need for immediate study of the ecological implications of rapidly changing winters.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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