Large spatial scale effects of rising temperatures: modelling a dragonfly’s life cycle and range throughout Europe


Dagmar Söndgerath, Institut für Geoökologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Langer Kamp 19c, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. E-mail:


Abstract. 1. Rising environmental temperature will likely affect life cycle and range of species. To forecast such effects in an odonate, we simulated the continent-wide life cycle distribution pattern and range of a dragonfly applying a dynamic population model.

2. The model was used to investigate how much of the current voltinism patterns and distribution range of the species are correctly predicted by using temperature and day length as the only environmental factors. We forecasted the range and voltinism changes on a European extent for the year 2050 using one GCM (CSIRO) driven by one greenhouse gas emission scenario (b2a) according to the IPCC.

3. The model run lead to 80% correctly predicted distribution range, with a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 55%, the latter because of high error in predicting absence in southern Europe.

4. The projected voltinism ranged from 1 to 2 years per generation in southern latitudes to 5 years in the north. A comparison with field data indicated correct predictions in 50% of all cases, while the other 50% were slight over- or underestimates by half a year per generation.

5. We conclude that the model led to sufficient predictions of range as well as of life cycle pattern in central and northern Europe. Wrong predictions of presence for southern Europe may be caused by factors not recognised in the model, likely competition by con generics, while incorrect voltinism was possibly because of habitat effects.

6. Simulations with increased temperature scenarios implied a future northward shift of the fundamental niche and a decreased development duration towards the northern range.