Predicting responses to climate change requires all life-history stages



The bog fritillary butterfly (Bolaria eunomia) alights onto Persicaria bistorta. This species of butterfly can be found in bogs, moist tundra, and willow seeps throughout the north-temperate region of the Northern Hemisphere. Photo: Camille Turlure. In Focus: Radchuk, V., Turlure, C. & Schtickzelle, N. (2013) Each life stage matters: the importance of assessing response to climate change over the complete life cycle in butterflies. Journal of Animal Ecology, 82, 275–285.Population-level responses to climate change depend on many factors, including unexpected interactions among life history attributes; however, few studies examine climate change impacts over complete life cycles of focal species. Radchuk, Turlure & Schtickzelle (2013) used experimental and modelling approaches to predict population dynamics for the bog fritillary butterfly under warming scenarios. Although they found that warming improved fertility and survival of all stages with one exception, populations were predicted to decline because overwintering larvae, whose survival declined with warming, were disproportionately important contributors to population growth. This underscores the importance of considering all life history stages in analyses of climate change's effects on population dynamics.