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Data from: Phenological synchrony between a butterfly and its host plants: experimental test of effects of spring temperature

Cite this dataset

Posledovich, Diana et al. (2018). Data from: Phenological synchrony between a butterfly and its host plants: experimental test of effects of spring temperature [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Climate-driven changes in the relative phenologies of interacting species may potentially alter the outcome of species interactions. 2. Phenotypic plasticity is expected to be important for short-term response to new climate conditions, and differences between species in plasticity are likely to influence their temporal overlap and interaction patterns. As reaction norms of interacting species may be locally adapted, any such climate-induced change in interaction patterns may vary among localities. However, consequences of spatial variation in plastic responses for species interactions are understudied. 3. We experimentally explored how temperature affected synchrony between spring emergence of a butterfly, Anthocharis cardamines, and onset of flowering of five of its host plant species across a latitudinal gradient. We also studied potential effects on synchrony if climate-driven northward expansions would be faster in the butterflies than in host plants. Lastly, to assess how changes in synchrony influence host use we carried out an experiment to examine the importance of the developmental stage of plant reproductive structures for butterfly oviposition preference. 4. In southern locations the butterflies were well-synchronized with the majority of their local host plant species across temperatures, suggesting that thermal plasticity in butterfly development matches oviposition to host plant development and that thermal reaction norms of insects and plants result in similar advancement of spring phenology in response to warming. In the most northern region, however, relative phenology between the butterfly and two of its host plant species changed with increased temperature. We also show that the developmental stage of plants was important for egg-laying, and conclude that temperature-induced changes in synchrony in the northernmost region are likely to lead to shifts in host use in A. cardamines if spring temperatures become warmer. Northern expansion of butterfly populations might possibly have a positive effect on keeping up with host plant phenology with more northern host plant populations. 5. Considering that the majority of insect herbivores exploit multiple plant species differing in their phenological response to spring temperatures, temperature-induced changes in synchrony might lead to shifts in host use and changes in species interactions in many temperate communities.

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