The seasons of change are upon us

with Brownie

HAVE you noticed that the rhythms of nature seem to be slightly off-kilter in recent years?

The wattles and the purple bush pea (Hovea acutifolia) along Steve Irwin Way at Glenview seemed to flower earlier and the magpies next door started nesting in May.

Last year, the Australia Institute released a discussion paper (Out of season. Expanding summers and shrinking winters in subtropical and temperate Australia) that showed our seasons are changing fairly dramatically.

It reported that, compared to the 1950s and ’60s, our summers are getting longer and our winters shorter.

In Brisbane, they found that summer is now 11 days longer and winter is 31 days shorter. Other capital cities fared much worse.

Summers were much longer in Sydney by 28 days, Canberra 31, Perth and Hobart 35, Adelaide 36 and Melbourne 38.

Winters were shorter for all other capitals too – Adelaide by ten days, Sydney 15, Melbourne 19, Hobart 21, Perth 25 and Canberra 35 days.

It means that Brisbane experiences a whole month less of winter than 60-70 years ago.

The changes are more dramatic in the past 20 years, with the report finding that over that 20 years a Brisbane winter was on average 61 days long until just the last five years when the average dropped to 31 days.

You’d have to imagine that this has caused some pretty wild changes in flowering, fruiting and breeding cycles of our plants and animals – both native and exotic.

For the home gardener, it means we get less time to grow winter vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, and the extended humid summers mean more pests and diseases for longer periods.

However, garden vegetables aren’t the only things that could be suffering.

Frog experts have recently reported that people up and down the east coast of Australia have been finding dead frogs, especially the large green tree frogs.

People are finding them dead and shrivelled in disturbing numbers. Some have even reported finding cane toads in a similar state.

Scientists are perplexed, with the most likely cause being a frog-killing disease called chytrid fungus.

If you’d like to read the full story, you’ll find the article on The Conversation website –

On the subject of frogs, a University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) study has found that female frogs tend to choose unattractive males when there is a lot of traffic noise.

As a result, they may be missing out on good mating opportunities because they cannot hear the calls properly or are distracted by the noise.

The research, from USC’s Global Change Ecology Research Group, said that it could spell disaster for overall reproductive success and population survival in urban frogs if this kind of distraction and behaviour was widespread.

So, not only are frogs having to contend with changing seasons and deadly fungus diseases, they’re now also struggling to find froggy love.

It’s a strange world we live in.