Weak effect of spring temperatures on phenological synchrony between herbivore emergence and host plant suitability
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Many species interactions are maintained by precise timing of life-cycle events across seasonal variation. Ecological implications of changes in phenologies, associated with climate change, with respect to species interactions are to a large extent unexplored. Changes in phenological distance between herbivores and their host plant species under new environmental conditions may potentially lead to shifts in host use patterns, with some plant species becoming more or less available at the time of a herbivore’s emergence. In addition, latitudinal variation in the timing of phenological events can lead to different patterns in host use shifts among populations of a given herbivore. Here we explored latitudinal variation in the effects of temperature on the degree of phenological synchrony between emergence of a butterfly, A. cardamines, and five of its herbaceous host plant species in a set of laboratory experiments to investigate the possibility that there will be shifts in the butterfly’ host utilization due to changes in thermal environment. The results suggest a similar temperature-mediated phenological plasticity between the butterflies and their host plants in three latitudinally divergent populations. In general, butterflies appeared to be well-synchronized with the majority of their host plant species across temperatures. In the most northern region, however, phenological distance between the butterfly and two out of four plant species was affected by temperature and decreased in warmer treatments. We relate this to a lower diversity of plant species and shorter period of host availability in the northern region. This creates a stronger selection pressure on the northern butterflies for a closer matching of their emergence to the plant flowering period. As the butterflies discriminated against non-flowering hosts with respect to oviposition, we conclude that a shift in host use in A. cardamines appears to be a possible scenario under spring warming, especially in the northern region.
Anthocharis cardamines, climate change, herbivore – host plant, orange tip butterfly, oviposition preference, phenological synchrony
Research subject Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116660OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-116660DiVA: diva2:807121