Life-history traits and climatic responsiveness in noctuid moths

Zsolt Végvári, Edit Juhász, János Pál Tóth, Zoltán Barta, Sándor Boldogh, Sándor Szabó, Zoltán Varga

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Emergence phenology has been shown to advance considerably in the past decades in many lepidopterans. Noctuid moths (Noctuidae) constitute a species-rich family of lepidopterans with a large diversity of life history traits presumably driving climatic responsiveness. In our study we aim to assess the role of life-history and ecological traits in climatic responsiveness of noctuid moths, whilst controlling for phylogenetic dependence. We used a long-term dataset of European noctuid moths collected from a light-trap in northeastern Hungary. As the study site is located at the intersection of several biogeographical zones harbouring a large number of noctuid moth species, our dataset provides a unique possibility to investigate the moths' climatic sensitivity. To estimate the role of life-history traits and ecological factors in driving lepidopterans' response to climatic trends, we employed three proxies related to the species' ecology (habitat affinity, food plant specialization and food type) and two robust types of life-history traits (migration strategy and hibernation form). The degree of temporal shifts of various measures of emergence phenology was related to hibernation stage, food type and migration strategy. Large-scale phylogenetic relatedness exerted little constraint in all models fitted on each measure of phenology. Our results imply that noctuid moths overwintering as adults exhibited greater degrees of phenological shifts than species hibernating as larvae or pupae. It implies that moths hibernating as adults are forced to suspend activity in our climate and the prolongation of autumn activity might be the result of increased plasticity in flight periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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