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Predator release from invertebrate generalists does not explain geometrid moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) outbreaks at high altitudes

  • Tino Schott (a1), Lauri Kapari (a1), Snorre B. Hagen (a2), Ole Petter L. Vindstad (a1), Jane U. Jepsen (a3) and Rolf A. Ims (a1)...

Abstract

Outbreaks of geometrid defoliators in subarctic birch forest in Fennoscandia often occur at high altitude in a distinct zone along the tree line. At the same time, moth larvae may not have an impact on the forest at lower altitude. Directly adjacent outbreak and nonoutbreak areas offer unique opportunities for studying the underlying mechanisms of outbreaks. Within two altitudinal gradients in coastal northern Norway, we investigated whether altitudinal outbreaks might be caused by release from pupal predation by ground-dwelling invertebrates such as harvestmen (Opiliones), spiders (Araneae), rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae), and other beetles (Coleoptera). We predicted a consistently higher abundance of such generalist predators at low versus high altitudes. Our results did not support this prediction. There was no consistent altitudinal variation in the abundance of predators that could be related to zonal moth outbreaks in the birch forest slopes. In addition, none of the predator groups investigated showed any numerical response to a distinct outbreak of winter moth that took place during the course of the study. Consequently, localised moth outbreaks at the altitudinal tree line in northern Norway cannot be explained by the release from pupal predation by the predator groups examined here.

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Corresponding author

1Correspondence author (e-mail: Tino.Schott@uit.no).

References

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Predator release from invertebrate generalists does not explain geometrid moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) outbreaks at high altitudes

  • Tino Schott (a1), Lauri Kapari (a1), Snorre B. Hagen (a2), Ole Petter L. Vindstad (a1), Jane U. Jepsen (a3) and Rolf A. Ims (a1)...

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