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Phenological matching rather than genetic variation in host preference underlies geographical variation in host plants used by the orange tip butterflies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1911-1742
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7303-5632
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4560-6271
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
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2016 (English)In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, ISSN 0024-4066, E-ISSN 1095-8312Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

An insect species that shows variation in host species association across its geographical range may do so either because of local adaptation in host plant preference of the insect, or through environmentally or genetically induced differences in the plants, causing variation in host plant suitability between regions. Here we experimentally investigate host plant preference of Anthocharis cardamines (orange tip butterfly) of two populations from UK and two from Sweden. Previous reports indicate that A. cardamines larvae are found on different host plant species in different regions of the United Kingdom, and some variation has been reported in Sweden. Host plant choice trials showed that females prefer to oviposit on plants in an earlier phenological stage, as well as on larger plants. When controlling for plant phenological stage and size, the host species had no statistically significant effect on the choice of the females. Moreover, there were no differences in host plant species preference among the four butterfly populations. Based on our experiment, the oviposition choice by A. cardamines mainly depends on the phenological stage and the size of the host plant. This finding supports the idea that the geographical patterns of host-plant association of A. cardamines in the UK and Sweden are consequences of the phenology and availability of local hosts, rather than regional genetic differences in host species preference of the butterfly.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Alliaria petiolata, Anthocharis cardamines, Cardamine pratensis, host plant preference, oviposition, plant-herbivore interaction
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131164DOI: 10.1111/bij.12838OAI: diva2:936655
Available from: 2016-06-14 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2016-09-14
In thesis
1. Spring Phenology of Butterflies: The role of seasonal variation in life-cycle regulation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Spring Phenology of Butterflies: The role of seasonal variation in life-cycle regulation
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Animals and plants in temperate regions must adapt their life cycle to pronounced seasonal variation. The research effort that has gone into studying these cyclical life history events, or phenological traits, has increased greatly in recent decades. As phenological traits are often correlated to temperature, they are relevant to study in terms of understanding the effect of short term environmental variation as well as long term climate change. Because of this, changes in phenology are the most obvious and among the most commonly reported responses to climate change. Moreover, phenological traits are important for fitness as they determine the biotic and abiotic environment an individual encounters. Fine-tuning of phenology allows for synchronisation at a local scale to mates, food resources and appropriate weather conditions. On a between-population scale, variation in phenology may reflect regional variation in climate. Such differences can not only give insights to life cycle adaptation, but also to how populations may respond to environmental change through time. This applies both on an ecological scale through phenotypic plasticity as well as an evolutionary scale through genetic adaptation. In this thesis I have used statistical and experimental methods to investigate both the larger geographical patterns as well as mechanisms of fine-tuning of phenology of several butterfly species. The main focus, however, is on the orange tip butterfly, Anthocharis cardamines, in Sweden and the United Kingdom. I show a contrasting effect of spring temperature and winter condition on spring phenology for three out of the five studied butterfly species. For A. cardamines there are population differences in traits responding to these environmental factors between and within Sweden and the UK that suggest adaptation to local environmental conditions. All populations show a strong negative plastic relationship between spring temperature and spring phenology, while the opposite is true for winter cold duration. Spring phenology is shifted earlier with increasing cold duration. The environmental variables show correlations, for example, during a warm year a short winter delays phenology while a warm spring speeds phenology up. Correlations between the environmental variables also occur through space, as the locations that have long winters also have cold springs. The combined effects of these two environmental variables cause a complex geographical pattern of phenology across the UK and Sweden. When predicting phenology with future climate change or interpreting larger geographical patterns one must therefore have a good enough understanding of how the phenology is controlled and take the relevant environmental factors in to account. In terms of the effect of phenological change, it should be discussed with regards to change in life cycle timing among interacting species. For example, the phenology of the host plants is important for A. cardamines fitness, and it is also the main determining factor for oviposition. In summary, this thesis shows that the broad geographical pattern of phenology of the butterflies is formed by counteracting environmental variables, but that there also are significant population differences that enable fine-tuning of phenology according to the seasonal progression and variation at the local scale.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2016. 42 p.
Phenology, Life cycle regulation, Phenotypic plasticity, Local adaptation, Butterflies, Diapause, Pupal development, Anthocharis cardamines, Herbivore – host plant interaction
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132278 (URN)978-91-7649-442-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-09-09, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-08-17 Created: 2016-08-04 Last updated: 2016-08-23Bibliographically approved

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Stålhandske, SandraOlofsson, MartinGotthard, KarlEhrlén, JohanWiklund, ChristerLeimar, Olof
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