Climate Change and Temporal and Spatial Mismatches in Insect Communities

Shannon L. Pelini, Kirsten M. Prior, Derrick J. Parker, Jason D.K. Dzurisin, Richard L. Lindroth, Jessica J. Hellmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

19 Scopus citations


This chapter demonstrates that the direction and magnitude of the effects of climate change on insect species are multifaceted. Warming from climate change will alter insect development time, voltinism, foraging behavior, emergence time, and survivorship. These changes, which alter population size and distribution, will affect the temporal and spatial dynamics of insect communities. Many insects provide important ecosystem services or affect human activities and the effects of climate change could alter these services or exacerbate these effects. Changes are occurring both spatially and temporally, and these changes result directly from changing climate and indirectly through interactions with species in lower (i.e. plants) and upper (i.e. predators) trophic levels. In addition, trophic cascades can occur such that changes in interactions between herbivores and their host plants affect higher trophic levels, and changes between predators and herbivorous prey can affect primary producers. Further, species traits such as dispersal ability, trophic level and degree of specialization are potentially good predictors of the effects of climate change. The prediction is that future communities will be dominated by mobile generalists, species with fast generation times, those that have high dispersal capabilities or those that have been dispersed around the globe by humans. Many of these species are already pests, and new species could become pests on new host plants or in new locations under climate change. These opportunists may affect important human activities, such as forestry and agriculture, with extensions into the role of forests as carbon sinks. Insects that provide important ecosystems services such as pollination or biological control could not fare as well. © 2009

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClimate Change
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780444533012
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper benefited by funding from the Office of Science (Biological and Environmental Research) of the US Department of Energy, under award numbers DE-FG02-05ER64023 to JJH and DE-FG02-06ER64232 to RLL. SLP led sections 2 and 3 ; KMP led sections 4 and 5 ; DJP and JDKD conducted the analysis in Fig. 1 and JJH and RLL initiated the project and edited the manuscript.


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