Current Zoology(formerly Acta Zoologica Sinica), 2014, 60(2): 243 - 251
Phenology of high-arctic butterflies and their floral resources: Species-specific responses to climate change
Toke T.HØYE,Anne ESKILDSEN , Rikke R. HANSEN, Joseph J. BOWDEN, Niels M. SCHMIDT, W. Daniel KISSLING
A a r h u s I n s t i t u t e o f A d v a n c e d S t u d i e s , D e n m a r k
Current global warming is particularly pronounced in the Arctic and arthropods are expected to respond rapidly to these changes. Long-term studies of individual arthropod species from the Arctic are, however, virtually absent. We examined butterfly specimens collected from yellow pitfall traps over 14 years (1996–2009) at Zackenberg in high-arctic, north-east Greenland. Specimens were previously sorted to the family level. We identified them to the species level and examined long-term species-specific phenological responses to recent summer warming. Two species were rare in the samples (Polaris fritillary Boloria polaris and Arctic blue Plebejus glandon) and statistical analyses of phenological responses were therefore restricted to the two most abundant species (Arctic fritillary, B. chariclea and Northern clouded yellow Colias hecla). Our analyses demonstrated a trend towards earlier flight seasons in B. chariclea,but not in C. hecla. The timing of onset, peak and end of the flight season in B. chariclea were closely related to snowmelt, July temperature and their interaction, whereas onset, peak and end of the flight season in C. hecla was only related to timing of snowmelt. The duration of the butterfly flight season was significantly positively related to the temporal overlap with floral resources in both butterfly species. We further demonstrate that yellow pitfall traps are a useful alternative to transect walks for butterfly recording in tundra habitats. More phenological studies of Arctic arthropods should be carried out at the species level and ideally be analysed in context with interacting species to assess how ongoing climate change will affect Arctic biodiversity in the near future[Current Zoology60 (2) : 243–251, 2014].