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Climatic warming increases voltinism in European butterflies and moths

By Florian Altermatt

Abstract

Climate change is altering geographical ranges, population dynamics and phenologies of many organisms. For ectotherms, increased ambient temperatures frequently have direct consequences for metabolic rates, activity patterns and developmental rates. Consequently, in many insect species both an earlier beginning and prolongation of seasonal duration occurred in parallel with recent global warming. However, from an ecological and evolutionary perspective, the number of generations (voltinism) and investment into each generation may be even more important than seasonality, since an additional generation per unit time may accelerate population growth or adaptation. Using a dataset extending back to the mid-nineteenth century, I report changes in the voltinism of butterfly and moth species of Central Europe. A significant proportion of 263 multi-voltine species showed augmented frequency of second and subsequent generations relative to the first generation in a warm period since 1980, and 44 species even increased the number of generations after 1980. Expected ecological consequences are diverse. Since multi-voltinism has been linked to insect outbreaks they include an increase in the abundance of herbivorous pests of agriculture and forestry. However, disruption of the developmental synchrony associated with multi-voltinism and host plant phenology may also reduce fitness, potentially having unexpected consequences for species of conservation concern. The ability of species to adapt evolutionarily to a changing environment may be facilitated by increased voltinism

Topics: Research articles
Publisher: The Royal Society
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2842813
Provided by: PubMed Central
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