Eur. J. Entomol. 102 (2): 161-167, 2005 | 10.14411/eje.2005.026

Climate change and the effect of increasing spring temperatures on emergence dates of the butterfly Apatura iris (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)

Dennis DELL1, Tim H. SPARKS2, Roger L.H. DENNIS*,3
1 8 Viney Lane, Fairford Leys, Aylesbury, Bucks HP19 7GR, UK
2 NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS, UK
3 Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK and The Manchester Museum (Entomology), Manchester University, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

Data on pupation and emergence dates for the nymphalid Purple Emperor butterfly Apatura iris have been collected at Basel, Switzerland, between 1982 and 2002. The butterfly has been shown to emerge on average 9 (males) to 12 (females) days earlier per decade, 19 and 24 days earlier respectively over the study period. Emergence dates relate strongly to spring temperatures, particularly with daily maximum temperatures for the months March to May. Temperatures for these months have increased significantly during this period (0.7C to 1.8C per decade). Three factors suggest that the strongest influence of the rise in spring temperatures has been on late larval instar growth and development: (i) May temperatures dominate emergence date models and larvae are feeding faster and for longer periods during this month, (ii) Salix caprea flowering date, a surrogate for bud burst, is excluded in stepwise regression models with temperatures and years suggesting that tree phenology may be less important than temperature effects on later development, and (iii) convergence of female and male emergence dates over time points to limits on earlier feeding in protandrous males. A negative consequence observed with earlier emergence dates is lethal extra broods.

Keywords: Apatura iris, climate change, development time, phenology, Salix caprea, Switzerland, trends

Received: August 12, 2004; Accepted: January 21, 2005; Published: May 3, 2005

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