• Open Access

Development on drought-stressed host plants affects life history, flight morphology and reproductive output relative to landscape structure

Authors

  • Melanie Gibbs,

    1.  NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, UK
    2.  Behavioural Ecology & Conservation Group, Biodiversity Research Centre, Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain (UCL),  Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hans Van Dyck,

    1.  Behavioural Ecology & Conservation Group, Biodiversity Research Centre, Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain (UCL),  Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Casper J. Breuker

    1.  Evolutionary Developmental Biology Research Group, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Medical Sciences, Oxford  Brookes University, Oxford, UK
    Search for more papers by this author

Melanie Gibbs, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK.
Tel.: +44 (0) 1491 692488;
fax: +44 (0) 1491 692424;
e-mail: mela1@ceh.ac.uk

Abstract

With global climate change, rainfall is becoming more variable. Predicting the responses of species to changing rainfall levels is difficult because, for example in herbivorous species, these effects may be mediated indirectly through changes in host plant quality. Furthermore, species responses may result from a simultaneous interaction between rainfall levels and other environmental variables such as anthropogenic land use or habitat quality. In this eco-evolutionary study, we examined how male and female Pararge aegeria (L.) from woodland and agricultural landscape populations were affected by the development on drought-stressed host plants. Compared with individuals from woodland landscapes, when reared on drought-stressed plants agricultural individuals had longer development times, reduced survival rates and lower adult body masses. Across both landscape types, growth on drought-stressed plants resulted in males and females with low forewing aspect ratios and in females with lower wing loading and reduced fecundity. Development on drought-stressed plants also had a landscape-specific effect on reproductive output; agricultural females laid eggs that had a significantly lower hatching success. Overall, our results highlight several potential mechanisms by which low water availability, via changes in host plant quality, may differentially influence P. aegeria populations relative to landscape structure.

Ancillary