Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Extreme weather decides distribution of insects

21.02.2014
Extreme weather caused by climate change in the coming decades is likely to have profound implications for distributions of insects and other invertebrates. This is suggested by a new study of insects in tropical and temperate regions of Australia.

As climate change is progressing, the temperature of our planet increases. This is particularly important for the large group of animals that are cold-blooded (ectothermic), including insects. Their body temperature is ultimately determined by the ambient temperature, and the same therefore applies to the speed and efficiency of their vital biological processes.


Fruit flies have been the model for a study that has shown how climate change may affect insect distribution in the future. (Photo: Ary A. Hoffmann)


Periods of extreme heat and thus drought may be the cause of death for many insects. (Photo: COLOURBOX).

But is it changes in average temperature or frequency of extreme temperature conditions that have the greatest impact on species distribution? This was the questions that a group of Danish and Australian researchers decided to examine in a number of insect species.

Johannes Overgaard, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark, Michael R. Kearney and Ary A. Hoffmann, Melbourne University, Australia, recently published the results of these studies in the journal Global Change Biology. The results demonstrate that it is especially the extreme temperature events that define the distribution of both tropical and temperate species. Thus climate change affects ectotermic animals primarily because more periods of extreme weather are expected in the future.

Fruit flies were modelled

The researchers examined 10 fruit fly species of the genus Drosophila adapted to tropical and temperate regions of Australia. First they examined the temperatures for which the species can sustain growth and reproduction, and then they found the boundaries of tolerance for hot and cold temperatures.

“This is the first time ever where we have been able to compare the effects of extremes and changes in average conditions in a rigorous manner across a group of species”, mentions Ary Hoffmann.

Based on this knowledge and knowledge of the present distribution of the 10 species they then examined if distribution was correlated to the temperatures required for growth and reproduction or rather limited by their tolerance to extreme temperature conditions.

"The answer was unambiguous: it is the species' tolerance to very cold or hot days that define their present distribution," says Johannes Overgaard.

It is therefore the extreme weather events, such as heat waves or extremely cold conditions, which costs the insects their life, not an increase in average temperature.

Periods of extreme heat and thus drought may be the cause of death for many insects. (Photo: COLOURBOX).

Drastic changes in store

With this information in hand, the researchers could then model how distributions are expected to change if climate change continues for the next 100 years.

Most terrestrial animals experience temperature variation on both daily and seasonal time scale, and they are adapted to these conditions. Thus, for a species to maintain its existence under varying temperature conditions there are two simple conditions that must be met. Firstly, the temperature should occasionally be such that the species can grow and reproduce, and secondly, the temperature must never be so extreme that the population's survival is threatened.

In temperate climate for example, there are many species which are adapted to endure low temperatures in the winter, and then grow and reproduce in the summer. In warmer climates, the challenge may be just the opposite. Here, the species might endure high temperatures during the dry hot summer, while growth and reproduction mainly occurs during the mild and wet winter period.

The result was discouraging for all 10 species.

"Climate change will result in fewer cold days and nights, and thus allow species to move toward higher latitudes. However climate change also leads to a higher incidence to extremely hot days and our model therefore predicts that the distribution of these species will be reduced to less than half their present distribution"says Johannes Overgaard.

“In fact, our predictions are that some species would disappear entirely in the next few decades, even when they have a fairly wide distribution that currently covers hundreds of kilometers”, adds Ary Hoffmann.

"Although none of the 10 species studied are normally perceived as either harmful or beneficial organisms for human society, the results indicate that distribution of many insect species will be changed dramatically, and it will probably also apply to many of the species that have particular social or commercial importance ", ends Johannes Overgaard.

Christina Troelsen/Johannes Overgaard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.au.dk
http://scitech.au.dk/en/roemer/feb14/ekstremt-vejr-afgoer-insekters-udbredelse/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>