Lonicera implexa leaves bearing naturally laid eggs of the specialist herbivore Euphydryas aurinia have dramatically greater concentrations of iridoid glycosides than other leaves

Peñuelas J., Sardans J., Stefanescu C., Parella T., Filella I. (2006) Lonicera implexa leaves bearing naturally laid eggs of the specialist herbivore Euphydryas aurinia have dramatically greater concentrations of iridoid glycosides than other leaves. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 32: 1925-1933.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10886-006-9118-8

Resum:

We tested in the field the hypothesis that the specialist butterfly Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae, Melitaeinae) lays eggs on leaves of Lonicera implexa (Caprifoliaceae) plants with greater iridoid concentrations. We conducted our investigations in a Mediterranean site by analyzing leaves with and without naturally laid egg clusters. There were no significant differences in iridoid glycoside concentrations between leaves from plants that did not receive eggs and the unused leaves from plants receiving eggs, a fact that would seem to indicate that E. aurinia butterflies do not choose plants for oviposition by their iridoid content. However, the leaves of L. implexa that bore egg clusters had dramatically greater (over 15-fold) concentrations of iridoid glycosides than the directly opposite leaves on the same plant. These huge foliar concentrations of iridoids (15% leaf dry weight) may provide specialist herbivores with compounds that they either sequester for their own defense or use as a means of avoiding competition for food from generalist herbivores. Nevertheless, it may still be possible that these high concentrations are detrimental to the herbivore, even if the herbivore is a specialist feeder on the plant. © Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006.

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Caterpillar-feeding induces large increases in foliar emissions of methanol, LOX volatiles and monoterpenes by Succisa pratensis.

Peñuelas J, Filella I, Stefanescu C, Llusià J (2005) Caterpillar-feeding induces large increases in foliar emissions of methanol, LOX volatiles and monoterpenes by Succisa pratensis. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 7, 05404 (p).

Caterpillars of Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) feeding on Succisa pratensis leaves induce large foliar emissions of methanol

Peñuelas J., Filella I., Stefanescu C., Llusià J. (2005) Caterpillars of Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) feeding on Succisa pratensis leaves induce large foliar emissions of methanol. New Phytologist. 167: 851-857.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2005.01459.x

Resum:

• A major new discovery made in the last decade is that plants commonly emit large amounts and varieties of volatiles after damage inflicted by herbivores, and not merely from the site of injury. However, analytical methods for measuring herbivore-induced volatiles do not usually monitor the whole range of these compounds and are complicated by the transient nature of their formation and by their chemical instability. • Here we present the results of using a fast and highly sensitive proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) technique that allows simultaneous on-line monitoring of leaf volatiles in the pptv (pmol mol-1) range. • The resulting on-line mass scans revealed that Euphydryas aurinia caterpillars feeding on Succisa pratensis leaves induced emissions of huge amounts of methanol - a biogeochemically active compound and a significant component of the volatile organic carbon found in the atmosphere - and other immediate, late and systemic volatile blends (including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and lipoxygenase-derived volatile compounds). • In addition to influencing neighboring plants, as well as herbivores and their predators and parasitoids, these large emissions might affect atmospheric chemistry and physics if they are found to be generalized in other plant species. © New Phytologist (2005).

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Butterflies highlight the conservation value of hay meadows highly threatened by land-use changes in a protected Mediterranean area

Stefanescu C., Peñuelas J., Filella I. (2005) Butterflies highlight the conservation value of hay meadows highly threatened by land-use changes in a protected Mediterranean area. Biological Conservation. 126: 234-246.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.05.010

Resum:

Butterfly assemblages were used to characterize and evaluate the conservation value of the main habitat types in the Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Natural Park (north-eastern Spain), an important protected wetland area on the Mediterranean coast. Butterfly data were obtained from a number of transects walked as part of the Catalan Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which uses a standardized methodology for monitoring butterflies. A Mantel test indicated a strong association between habitat types and the composition of butterfly assemblages and a principal component analysis ordinated individual butterfly species along a gradient from woodland to open areas, thereby indicating various degrees of shade tolerance. In addition, cluster analysis distinguished two main groups of habitats based on the similarities of their butterfly fauna: woodland and bramble clumps and a group of three different kinds of grasslands (traditionally hay meadows, pastures, and alfalfa fields). Hay meadows flooded in winter (the so-called closes) appeared always as the highest ranked habitat in terms of conservation evaluation: they have more butterflies and a slight tendency to harbor more and generally rarer species. This conclusion coincides with that of previous investigations that have indicated that the most diverse and rare plant communities in the whole Natural Park are present in the closes, and highlights the importance of traditionally managed hay meadows for wildlife. However, these hay meadows - one of the rarest habitats in the Mediterranean region - are in alarming decline and have become the most threatened habitat in this protected area: no longer profitable, we believe that the future of the closes will depend ultimately on the existence of agri-environmental schemes. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Effects of climatic change on the phenology of butterflies in the northwest Mediterranean Basin

Stefanescu C., Penuelas J., Filella I. (2003) Effects of climatic change on the phenology of butterflies in the northwest Mediterranean Basin. Global Change Biology. 9: 1494-1506.
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Doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2486.2003.00682.x

Resum:

Phenological changes in response to climatic warming have been detected across a wide range of organisms. Butterflies stand out as one of the most popular groups of indicators of climatic change, given that, firstly, they are poikilothermic and, secondly, have been the subject of thorough monitoring programmes in several countries for a number of decades. Here we provide for the first time strong evidence of phenological change as a consequence of recent climatic warming in butterflies at a Spanish site in the northwest Mediterranean Basin. By means of the widely used Butterfly Monitoring Scheme methodology, three different phenological parameters were analysed for the most common species to test for trends over time and relationships with temperature and precipitation. Between 1988 and 2002, there was a tendency for earlier first appearance dates in all 17 butterfly species tested, and significant advances in mean flight dates in 8 out of 19 species. On the other hand, the shape of the curve of adult emergence did not show any regular pattern. These changes paralleled an increase of 1-1.5°C in mean February, March and June temperatures. Likewise, a correlation analysis indicated the strong negative effect of spring temperature on phenological parameters (i.e. higher temperatures tended to produce phenological advances), and the opposite effect of precipitation in certain months. In addition, there was some evidence to indicate that phenological responses may differ between taxonomic lineages or species with similar diets. We discuss the consequences that these changes may have on species' population abundances, especially given the expected increase in aridity in the Mediterranean Basin caused by current climatic warming. We predict that varying degrees of phenological flexibility may account for differences in species' responses and, for multivoltine species, predict strong selection favouring local seasonal adaptations such as diapause phenomena or migratory behaviour.

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