Historical changes in the phenology of British Odonata are related to climate

Authors

  • CHRISTOPHER HASSALL,

    1. Population and Evolutionary Biology Research Group, The Biosciences Building, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK,
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  • DAVID J. THOMPSON,

    1. Population and Evolutionary Biology Research Group, The Biosciences Building, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK,
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  • GRAHAM C. FRENCH,

    1. British Dragonfly Society, c/o English Nature North Mercia Team, Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 4TW, UK
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  • IAN F. HARVEY

    1. Population and Evolutionary Biology Research Group, The Biosciences Building, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK,
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Christopher Hassall, tel. +44 151 7954533, fax +44 151 7954408, e-mail: c.hassall@liverpool.ac.uk

Abstract

Responses of biota to climate change take a number of forms including distributional shifts, behavioural changes and life history changes. This study examined an extensive set of biological records to investigate changes in the timing of life history transitions (specifically emergence) in British Odonata between 1960 and 2004. The results show that there has been a significant, consistent advance in phenology in the taxon as a whole over the period of warming that is mediated by life history traits. British odonates significantly advanced the leading edge (first quartile date) of the flight period by a mean of 1.51 ±0.060 (SEM, n=17) days per decade or 3.08±1.16 (SEM, n=17) days per degree rise in temperature when phylogeny is controlled for. This study represents the first review of changes in odonate phenology in relation to climate change. The results suggest that the damped temperature oscillations experienced by aquatic organisms compared with terrestrial organisms are sufficient to evoke phenological responses similar to those of purely terrestrial taxa.

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