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Diet breadth of Gynaephora groenlandica (Lepidoptera: Erebidae): is polyphagy greater in alpine versus Arctic populations?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2014

I.C. Barrio*
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
D.S. Hik
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
J.Y. Liu
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
1Corresponding author (e-mail:


Gynaephora groenlandica (Wocke) (Lepidoptera: Erebidae) is a cold-adapted species, whose life history traits are dictated by cold and short Arctic summers. We used a recently discovered alpine tundra population in southwestern Yukon, Canada to investigate local adaptations to habitats with different environmental conditions (alpine versus Arctic). Using cafeteria-type experiments and field observations we examined the diet breadth of alpine populations of G. groenlandica beringiana Schmidt and Cannings, and compared these to published data on High Arctic populations of G. groenlandica groenlandica and to the closely related G. rossii Curtis. Gynaephora groenlandica beringiana appears to have a broader diet than High Arctic populations, but similar to that exhibited by alpine populations of G. rossii. Such trends could emerge from reduced synchrony between herbivores and their host plants in less extreme environments, and possibly from a reduced incidence of parasitoids in the life cycle of these populations. Our findings indicate the larval host plant plasticity of G. groenlandica in different environments, and are relevant to predictions regarding the fate of these populations under climate warming scenarios.

Behaviour & Ecology – NOTE
© Entomological Society of Canada 2014 

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Subject Editor: Chris Schmidt


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