Eur. J. Entomol. 103 (2): 379-386, 2006 | 10.14411/eje.2006.051

Complex phenological responses to climate warming trends? Lessons from history

Tim H. SPARKS1, Kerstin HUBER2, Roger L.H. DENNIS1
1 NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS, UK; e-mail: ths@ceh.ac.uk
2 Fachhochschule München, Lothstrasse 34, 80335 München, Germany

Responsiveness of Lepidoptera phenology to climate has been detected in a number of species during the current trend in global warming. There is still a question of whether climate signals would be evident in historical data. In this paper we examine the climatic response of 155 species of moths and butterflies collected during the period 1866-1884 in Wiltshire, southern England. In general, species responded to increased temperature in the previous October by delayed appearance and to increased temperature in the current spring by advanced appearance. Thus, differential changes in temperatures of the autumn and spring could well affect changes in the relative pattern of the phenology of species. Attributes influencing the species' ecology were examined to see if they influenced temperature responsiveness. In general, few consistent effects emerged, though responsiveness to climate was found to be greater for species eclosing later in the year, specifically to the previous autumn temperatures, and to hibernal environment, increasingly for species less exposed to air temperatures. These findings warn against expecting simple responses to climate warming.

Keywords: Climate change, climate impacts, Lepidoptera, temperature response, historic data

Received: September 29, 2005; Accepted: December 2, 2005; Published: April 6, 2006


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