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Temperate-Zone Butterflies Could Actually Benefit from Warming

Paper Reviewed
Klockmann, M., Schroder, U., Karajoli, F. and Fischer, K. 2016. Simulating effects of climate change under direct and diapause development in a butterfly. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 158: 60-68.

Writing as background for their work, Klockmann et al. (2016) state that "whereas tropical ectotherms are believed to be very sensitive to climate change, temperate-zone species may actually benefit from higher temperatures." And to further explore this possibility, they investigated various impacts of simulated climate change that involved increases in mean temperatures and heat waves across developmental pathways of the butterfly Lycaena tityrus (Poda) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae).

This work revealed, as the four German researchers report, that although the studied butterflies experienced decreased pupal mass, they "speeded up development and increased growth rates," which responses reflect the "near universal patterns in ectothermic animals," citing the findings of Atkinson (1994), Partridge and French (1996), Sinclair et al. (2003), Karl and Fischer (2008) and Angilletta (2009). And when reporting that their results showed "no evidence for detrimental effects of simulated heat waves," they opine that "the majority of temperate-zone species may actually benefit from climate change by bringing them closer to their thermal optimum," further citing the findings of Savage et al. (2004), Frazier et al. (2006), Deutsch et al. (2008) and Kingsolver (2009).

In concluding, therefore, Klockmann et al. suggest that "Lycaena tityrus is, overall, likely to benefit from climate change and may respond with range expansions."

Angilletta, M.J. 2009. Thermal Adaptation: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Atkinson, D. 1994. Temperature and organism size - a biological law for ectotherms? Advances in Ecological Research 25: 1-58.

Deutsch, C.A., Tewksbury, J.J., Huey, R.B., Sheldon, K.S., Ghalambor, C.K., Haak D. C. and Martin P. R. 2008. Impacts of climate warming on terrestrial ectotherms across latitude. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105: 6668-6672.

Frazier, M.R., Huey, R.B. and Berrigan, D. 2006. Thermodynamics constrains the evolution of insect population growth rates: 'warmer is better'. American Naturalist 168: 512-520.

Karl, I. and Fischer, K. 2008. Why get big in the cold? Towards a solution to a life-history puzzle. Oecologia 155: 215-225.

Kingsolver, J.G. 2009. The well-temperatured biologist. American Naturalist 174: 755-768.

Partridge, L. and French, V. 1996. Thermal evolution of ectotherm body size: why get big in the cold. In: Animals and Temperature - Phenotypic and Evolutionary Adaptation (Johnston, I.A. and Bennett, A.F., Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, pp. 265-292.

Savage, V.M., Gillooly, J.F., Brown, J;H., West, G.B. and Charnov, E.L. 2004. Effects of body size and temperature on population growth. American Naturalist 163: 429-441.

Sinclair, B.J., Vernon, P., Klock, J.C. and Chown, S.L. 2003. Insects at low temperatures: an ecological perspective. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 257-262.

Posted 20 September 2016