East Atlantic teleconnection pattern and the decline of a common arctiid moth


Kelvin F. Conrad, tel. 01582 763133, fax 01582 760981, e-mail: kelvin.conrad@bbsrc.ac.uk


Teleconnection patterns are large-scale atmospheric circulation systems and variation in them is often associated with impacts on climate and weather over broad areas. Arctia caja L. is a well-known, widespread and charismatic tiger moth. In recent decades, the abundance of A. caja in UK has fallen abruptly. The annual abundance of A. caja in UK is known to be affected adversely by wet winter weather and warm spring temperatures. We examined A. caja population dynamics from 1968 to 1999 for weather and climatological effects. Population growth rate displayed endogenous effects of abundance in the previous two seasons. Accounting for this, growth rate in the present season was still affected significantly by winter precipitation and spring temperature. Annual abundance of A. caja was inversely related to winter East Atlantic teleconnection pattern (winter EA index) and annual population growth rate was inversely related to winter EA in the present and previous two seasons. An index of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), commonly used as an indicator of winter climate in northern Europe, did not show a significant relationship with growth rate. We noted, for the first time, that the winter EA index has increased steadily over the past five decades. The model presented here therefore implies a further decline of A. caja population growth rates and abundance in the future. This is the first demonstration of a relationship between EA and population dynamics and indicates the EA and other lesser-known teleconnection patterns may prove useful in modeling the ecological effects of climate change.