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BayCEER - Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research

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Effects of climate change on altitudinal distribution, trophic interactions and genetic diversity of butterflies in low- mountain regions

DFG - STE 957/8-1

From 06/2008 to 06/2011

Principal Investigator: Jochen Krauss, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
Staff: Kathrin Wagner

Climate change is considered as a major threat to biodiversity. In consequence of rising temperatures, altitudinal and latitudinal shifts in distributions and abundances of plant and animal species have been observed. However, effects of climate change on multitrophic interactions and genetic diversity of insect populations have been rarely studied. In this project we will investigate the potential impact of climate change on butterflies by (1) comparing current and historical distribution data, (2) performing field experiments, and (3) analysing population genetics along an altitudinal gradient. The additional quantification of land use change provides insights into the relative importance of both factors. In a low-mountain region in Bavaria, Germany (Fichtelgebirge), current occurrences of butterfly species will be compared with detailed historical occurrence data 50 to 60 years ago. To analyse temporal and geographical synchronization of butterfly hosts and their parasitoids and local adaptations of butterflies at different altitudes a reciprocal transplant experiment will be performed. For a selected butterfly species genetic diversity will be assessed along an altitudinal gradient and will be compared with genetic diversity of archived museum individuals.

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