University of Oulu

Keret, N.M., Mutanen, M.J., Orell, M.I. et al. Climate change-driven elevational changes among boreal nocturnal moths. Oecologia 192, 1085–1098 (2020).

Climate change-driven elevational changes among boreal nocturnal moths

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Author: Keret, Netta M.1; Mutanen, Marko J.1; Orell, Markku I.1;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
2Present address: Kaitoväylä 25 A 6, FI-90570, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-12


Climate change has shifted geographical ranges of species northwards or to higher altitudes on elevational gradients. These changes have been associated with increases in ambient temperatures. For ectotherms in seasonal environments, however, life history theory relies largely on the length of summer, which varies somewhat independently of ambient temperature per se. Extension of summer reduces seasonal time constraints and enables species to establish in new areas as a result of over-wintering stage reaching in due time. The reduction of time constraints is also predicted to prolong organisms’ breeding season when reproductive potential is under selection. We studied temporal change in the summer length and its effect on species’ performance by combining long-term data on the occurrence and abundance of nocturnal moths with weather conditions in a boreal location at Värriötunturi fell in NE Finland. We found that summers have lengthened on average 5 days per decade from the late 1970s, profoundly due to increasing delays in the onset of winters. Moth abundance increased with increasing season length a year before. Most of the species occurrences expanded upwards in elevation. Moth communities in low elevation pine heath forest and middle elevation mountain birch forest have become inseparable. Yet, the flight periods have remained unchanged, probably due to unpredictable variation in proximate conditions (weather) that hinders life histories from selection. We conclude that climate change-driven changes in the season length have potential to affect species’ ranges and affect the structure of insect assemblages, which may contribute to alteration of ecosystem-level processes.

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Series: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
ISSN-E: 1432-1939
ISSN-L: 0029-8549
Volume: 192
Issue: 4
Pages: 1085 - 1098
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-020-04632-w
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. Data analysis was supported by strategic research funding from the Kvantum Institute of Oulu University (PMV), the Academy of Finland (#258638: MIO and PMV; #277984: MJM), the Thule Institute of Oulu University (NMK) and the Societas Pro Fauna et Flora Fennica (NMK).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 258638
Detailed Information: 258638 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
277984 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit