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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Community phenology of insects on oak: local differentiation along a climatic gradient

Ekholm, Adam; Faticov, Maria; Tack, Ayco J. M.; Berger, Josef; Stone, Graham N.; Vesterinen, Eero; Roslin, Tomas


Climate change is advancing the onset of phenological events, with the rate of advance varying among species and trophic levels. In addition, local populations of the same species may show genetic differences in their response to seasonal cues. If populations of interacting species differ in their response, then climate change may result in geographically varying shifts in the community-level distribution of interaction strength. We explored the magnitude of trophic- and species-level responses to temperature in a tritrophic system comprising pedunculate oak, insect herbivores, and their associated parasitoids. We sampled local realizations of this community at five sites along a transect spanning fifteen degrees of latitude. Samples from each trophic level at each site were exposed to the same set of five climatic regimes during overwintering in climate chambers. We then recorded the number of days and degree-days required for oak acorns to develop and insects to emerge. In terms of dates of events, phenology differed among populations. In terms of degree-days, we found that for two species pairs, the heat sum required to develop in spring differed by an additional similar to 500 degree-days between trophic levels when overwintering at the highest temperature. For three species, within-population variation in the number of degree-days required for emergence was higher at warmer temperatures. Our findings suggest that changing temperatures can modify interactions within a community by altering the relative phenology of interacting species and that some interactions are more vulnerable than others to a shift in temperature. The geographic variation in the phenological response of a species suggests that there is a genetic component in determining the phenology of local populations. Such local variation blended with interspecific differences in responses makes it complex to understand how communities will respond to warmer temperatures.


climate change; community ecology; mismatch; phenology

Published in

2021, volume: 12, number: 11, article number: e03785
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Faticov, Maria
Stockholm University
Tack, Ayco J. M.
Stockholm University
Berger, Josef
Lund University
Stone, Graham N.
University of Edinburgh
Vesterinen, Eero
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Vesterinen, Eero
University of Turku
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research

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