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Phenological responses in a sycamore‐aphid‐parasitoid system and consequences for aphid population dynamics: a 20‐year case study

Senior, V. L., Evans, L. C. ORCID:, Leather, S. R., Oliver, T. H. ORCID: and Evans, K. L. (2020) Phenological responses in a sycamore‐aphid‐parasitoid system and consequences for aphid population dynamics: a 20‐year case study. Global Change Biology, 26 (5). pp. 2814-2828. ISSN 1365-2486

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15015


Species interactions have a spatio‐temporal component driven by environmental cues, which if altered by climate change can drive shifts in community dynamics. There is insufficient understanding of the precise time‐windows during which inter‐annual variation in weather drives phenological shifts and the consequences for mismatches between interacting species and resultant population dynamics – particularly for insects. We use a 20‐year study on a tri‐trophic system: sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, two associated aphid species Drepanosiphum platanoidis and Periphyllus testudinaceus, and their hymenopteran parasitoids. Using a sliding window approach, we assess climatic drivers of phenology in all three trophic levels. We quantify the magnitude of resultant trophic mismatches between aphids and their plant hosts and parasitoids, and then model the impacts of these mismatches, direct weather effects and density dependence on local‐scale aphid population dynamics. Warmer temperatures in mid‐March to late‐April were associated with advanced sycamore budburst, parasitoid attack and (marginally) D. platanoidis emergence. The precise time‐window during which spring weather advances phenology varies considerably across each species. Crucially, warmer temperatures in late winter delayed the emergence of both aphid species. Seasonal variation in warming rates thus generate marked shifts in the relative timing of spring events across trophic levels and mismatches in the phenology of interacting species. Despite this, we found no evidence that aphid population growth rates were adversely impacted by the magnitude of mismatch with their host plants or parasitoids, or direct impacts of temperature and precipitation. Strong density dependence effects occurred in both aphid species and probably buffered populations, through density dependent compensation, from adverse impacts of the marked inter‐annual climatic variation that occurred during the study period. These findings explain the resilience of aphid populations to climate change and uncover a key mechanism, warmer winter temperatures delaying insect phenology, by which climate change drives asynchronous shifts between interacting species.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:88923
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Global and Planetary Change, General Environmental Science, Environmental Chemistry


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