Potential impacts of climate change on insect communities

a transplant experiment

Sabine S. Nooten, Nigel R. Andrew, Lesley Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)
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Climate change will have profound impacts on the distribution, abundance and ecology of all species. We used a multi-species transplant experiment to investigate the potential effects of a warmer climate on insect community composition and structure. Eight native Australian plant species were transplanted into sites approximately 2.5°C (mean annual temperature) warmer than their native range. Subsequent insect colonisation was monitored for 12 months. We compared the insect communities on transplanted host plants at the warmer sites with control plants transplanted within the species' native range. Comparisons of the insect communities were also made among transplanted plants at warmer sites and congeneric plant species native to the warmer transplant area. We found that the morphospecies composition of the colonising Coleoptera and Hemiptera communities differed markedly between transplants at the control compared to the warmer sites. Community structure, as described by the distribution of feeding guilds, was also found to be different between the controls and transplants when the entire Coleoptera and Hemiptera community, including non-herbivore feeding guilds, was considered. However, the structure of the herbivorous insect community showed a higher level of consistency between plants at control and warm sites. There were marked differences in community composition and feeding guild structure, for both herbivores and non-herbivores, between transplants and congenerics at the warm sites. These results suggest that as the climate warms, considerable turnover in the composition of insect communities may occur, but insect herbivore communities may retain elements of their present-day structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere85987
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2014

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Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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