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Reversed impacts by specialist parasitoids and generalist predators may explain a phase lag in moth cycles : a novel hypothesis and preliminary field tests

By Netta Klemola, Annette Heisswolf, Tea Ammunét, Kai Ruohomäki and Tero Klemola


Among cyclic populations of herbivores, inter-specific temporal synchrony has been attributed to both climatic factors and trophic interactions. In northern Europe, winter and autumnal moths undergo regular 9–11 year population cycles. The winter moth cycle has typically been phase-locked with that of the autumnal moth, but with a 1–3- year phase lag. We examined potential effects of natural enemies on this phase lag using field experiments and observational data. We found that larval parasitism was significantly higher in autumnal than in winter moths. Conversely, pupal predation by generalist invertebrates was clearly greater in winter than in autumnal moths. The difference in parasitism rates may contribute to the earlier collapse of the autumnal moth cycle. In addition, the phase lag may be strengthened by higher pupal mortality in winter moths in the early increase phase of the cycles. As a consequence, we put forward a hypothesis on reversed effects of natural enemies, providing a potential explanation for phase-lagged population cycles of these moth species

Topics: ddc:590
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:

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