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The impact of elevated aestivation temperatures on the behaviour of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa)

Lownds, R. M., Turbill, C., White, T. E. and Umbers, K. D. (2023) The impact of elevated aestivation temperatures on the behaviour of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa). Journal of Thermal Biology, 113. 103538. ISSN 1879-0992

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2023.103538


Bogong moths are an iconic Australian insect. They migrate annually in spring from low elevation locations in southern Australia to the Australian Alps where they aestivate during summer. As summer ends they make their return journey to the breeding grounds where they mate, lay eggs, and die. Given the moth's extreme behaviour in seeking out cool alpine habitat and with the knowledge that average temperatures at their aestivation sites are rising because of climate change, we first asked whether increased temperatures affect bogong moth activity during aestivation. We found that moth behaviour patterns changed from showing peaks at dawn and dusk with supressed activity during the day at cooler temperatures to near-constant activity at all times of day at 15 °C. Second, we asked whether moth mass changes after aestivating at different temperatures for a week due to dehydration or consumption of body energy reserves. We found that moth wet mass loss increased with increasing temperature, but found no difference in dry mass among temperature treatments. Overall, our results suggest that bogong moth aestivation behaviour changes with temperature and that it may be lost at around 15 °C. The impact of warming on the likelihood of individuals to complete their aestivation in the field should be investigated as a matter of priority to better understand the impact of climate change on the Australian alpine ecosystem.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:111767
Uncontrolled Keywords:Estivation, Behavior, Animal, Conservation, Climate change, Physiology, Moths, Migration, Animals, Temperature, Alpine

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