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Determining the environmental factors underlying the spatial variability of insect appearance phenology for the honey bee, Apis mellifera, and the small white, Pieris rapae

AuthorsGordo, Óscar; Sanz, Juan José ; Lobo, Jorge M.
Keywordsappearance date
geographic information system
Iberian Peninsula
land use
difference vegetation index
Issue Date2010
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationJournal of Insect Science 10: 1-21 (2010)
AbstractThe spatial patterns of the variability of the appearance dates of the honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidea) and the small white Pieris rapae (L.) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) were investigated in Spain. A database of more than 7,000 records of the dates of the first spring sightings of each species in more than 700 localities from 1952-2004 was used. Phenological data were related to spatial, topographical, climate, land use, and vegetation productivity explanatory variables by means of multiple regression models in order to search for the environmental mechanisms underlying the observable phenological variability. Temperature and altitudinal spatial gradients accounted for most of the spatial variability in the phenology of the studied species, while vegetation productivity and land use had low relevance. In both species, the first individuals were recorded at those sites with warmer springs and dry summers, at low altitudes, and not covered with dry farming (i.e., cereal crops). The identity and magnitude of the effect of the variables were almost identical for both species and closely mirrored spatial temperature gradients. The best explanatory models accounted for up to half of the variability of appearance dates. Residuals did not show a spatial autocorrelation, meaning that no other spatially structured variable at our working resolution could have improved the results. Differences in the spatial patterns of phenology with regard to other taxa, such as arrival dates of migratory birds, suggest that spatial constraints may play an essential role in the phenological matching between trophic levels.
Publisher version (URL)http://jinsectscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/34
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