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Modelling as a tool for analysing the temperature-dependent future of the Colorado potato beetle in Europe


Correspondence: Anna Maria Jönsson, tel. +46 46 2229410,fax +46 46 2220321, e-mail:


A warmer climate may increase the risk of attacks by insect pests on agricultural crops, and questions on how to adapt management practice have created a need for impact models. Phenological models driven by climate data can be used for assessing the potential distribution and voltinism of different insect species, but the quality of the simulations is influenced by a range of uncertainties. In this study, we model the temperature-dependent activity and development of the Colorado potato beetle, and analyse the influence of uncertainty associated with parameterization of temperature and day length response. We found that the developmental threshold has a major impact on the simulated number of generations per year. Little is known about local adaptations and individual variations, but the use of an upper and a lower developmental threshold gave an indication on the potential variation. The day length conditions triggering diapause are known only for a few populations. We used gridded observed temperature data to estimate local adaptations, hypothesizing that cold autumns can leave a footprint in the population genetics by low survival of individuals not reaching the adult stage before winter. Our study indicated that the potential selection pressure caused by climate conditions varies between European regions. Provided that there is enough genetic variation, a local adaption at the northern distribution limit would reduce the number of unsuccessful initiations and thereby increase the potential for spreading to areas currently not infested. The simulations of the impact model were highly sensitive to biases in climate model data, i.e. systematic deviations in comparison with observed weather, highlightening the need of improved performance of regional climate models. Even a moderate temperature increase could change the voltinism of Leptinotarsa decemlineata in Europe, but knowledge on agricultural practice and strategies for countermeasures is needed to evaluate changes in risk of attacks.

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