Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Winter Moth Proves Able To Adjust To Climate Change

Date:
June 21, 2007
Source:
Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Summary:
Winter moths are able to adjust to the changing temperatures of our changing climate. The temperature determines the day winter moths hatch out and that temperature sensitivity is hereditary. Through selection only the most adjusted eggs remain, meaning those that nowadays hatch at the same time as the oak buds burst -- as young oak leaves are their food source. Such research should be undertaken for more species to improve the predictions of climate-change consequences.

A caterpillar of the winter moth.
Credit: Margriet van Asch, NIOO-KNAW and Leonard Holleman, NIOO-KNAW

Winter moths are able to adjust to the changing temperatures of our changing climate. The temperature determines the day winter moths hatch out and that temperature sensitivity is hereditary. Through selection only the most adjusted eggs remain, meaning those that nowadays hatch at the same time as the oak buds burst – as young oak leaves are their food source. Such research should be undertaken for more species to improve the predictions of climate-change consequences.

Since the climate pattern in winter and spring is changing, already for some 35 years, the winter moth hatched earlier and earlier. In warm years part of the caterpillars even appeared before the oak leaves did. Young oak leaves are the food source for this species’ caterpillars and without them they die within days. The winter moth reacted too sharply on climate change in the Netherlands.

Now it is found out that they are able to adjust to their new situation, so to their new climate. They did just that during the last ten years. NIOO ecologist Margriet van Asch explains: “At the same temperature eggs now hatch five to ten days later. The result is that they are again better synchronized with the oak leaves.”

Van Asch and colleagues researched the winter moth in nature and in climate rooms, under normal and under raised temperatures. This way, they can predict how these moths will adapt to the changing climate. “This change can not only be witnessed in our experiments, but also in the woods outside,” Van Asch reveals. “What makes them able to adjust, is the presence of sufficient genetic variation in ‘egg hatching moment’ within the moth population.”

The winter moth appears to cope with restricted climate change. This species adjusts quickly enough when compared to one of the moderate climate scenarios. “But we have to collect the same sort of information for other species and ecosystems,” argues project leader Marcel Visser. “Only then we can state by how many degrees the temperature may change without causing serious problems. This will give politicians something to base their target on, instead of that arbitrary 2 degrees Celsius warming.”

The winter moth Operophtera brumata lives in the woods. There they form a major food source for many songbirds like great tit and pied flycatcher. But these birds still have a problem. Their food source may be able to adjust and consequently survive in higher numbers, but they cannot. The caterpillars still peak earlier than their chicks and climate-induced asynchrony is still the reality for these birds.

This part of the winter moth project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. With this discovery Margriet van Asch of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology earned her doctoral degree.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Institute of Ecology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Institute of Ecology. "Winter Moth Proves Able To Adjust To Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070619174647.htm>.
Netherlands Institute of Ecology. (2007, June 21). Winter Moth Proves Able To Adjust To Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070619174647.htm
Netherlands Institute of Ecology. "Winter Moth Proves Able To Adjust To Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070619174647.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins