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Phenological diversity in the interactions between winter moth (Operophtera brumata) larvae and parasitoid wasps in sub-arctic mountain birch forest

  • O.P.L. Vindstad (a1), S.B. Hagen (a1) (a2), J.U. Jepsen (a1) (a3), L. Kapari (a1), T. Schott (a1) and R.A. Ims (a1)...

Abstract

Population cycles of the winter moth (Operophtera brumata) in sub-arctic coastal birch forests show high spatiotemporal variation in amplitude. Peak larval densities range from levels causing little foliage damage to outbreaks causing spatially extensive defoliation. Moreover, outbreaks typically occur at or near the altitudinal treeline. It has been hypothesized that spatiotemporal variation in O. brumata cycle amplitude results from climate-induced variation in the degree of phenological matching between trophic levels, possibly between moth larvae and parasitoids. The likelihood of mismatching phenologies between larvae and parasitoids is expected to depend on how specialized parasitoids are, both as individual species and as a guild, to attacking specific larval developmental stages (i.e. instars). To investigate the larval instar-specificity of parasitoids, we studied the timing of parasitoid attacks relative to larval phenology. We employed an observational study design, with sequential sampling over the larval period, along an altitudinal gradient harbouring a pronounced treeline outbreak of O. brumata. Within the larval parasitoid guild, containing seven species groups, the timing of attack by different groups followed a successional sequence throughout the moth's larval period and each group attacked 1–2 instars. Such phenological diversity within parasitoid guilds may lower the likelihood of climate-induced trophic mismatches between victim populations and many/all of their enemies. Parasitism rates declined with increasing altitude for most parasitoid groups and for the parasitoid guild as a whole. However, the observed spatiotemporal parasitism patterns provided no clear evidence for or against altitudinal mismatch between larval and parasitoid phenology.

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*Authors for correspondence Fax: +47 77646020 E-mail: ole.p.vindstad@uit.no

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Phenological diversity in the interactions between winter moth (Operophtera brumata) larvae and parasitoid wasps in sub-arctic mountain birch forest

  • O.P.L. Vindstad (a1), S.B. Hagen (a1) (a2), J.U. Jepsen (a1) (a3), L. Kapari (a1), T. Schott (a1) and R.A. Ims (a1)...

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