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Wing lengths of three Arctic butterfly species decrease as summers warm in Alaska
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  • K. Daly,
  • Derek Sikes,
  • Daniel Mann,
  • Greg Breed
K. Daly
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Derek Sikes
University of Alaska Museum, University of Alaska
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Daniel Mann
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Greg Breed
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Climate warming can cause arthropods to express plastic and/or evolved changes in morphology. Previous studies have demonstrated that body sizes of Arctic butterflies are influenced by the temperatures experienced as larvae. To investigate whether this was occurring among Alaskan butterflies, we analyzed temporal trends in the wing sizes of three Holarctic species, Colias hecla, Boloria chariclea, and Boloria freija, using museum specimens collected in Arctic tundra regions of Alaska between 1971 and 1995. Wing length was compared to accumulated growing degree days (GDD) during both the spring of the year collected and the previous year’s summer during the normal period of larval development. We used mixed-effects models to test if spring and summer temperatures affected adult morphology. Results show that for every 1°C increase in average seasonal temperature, wingspans decreased between 0.7 millimeters and 5 millimeters, with B. freija the most strongly affected. Our results suggest that the morphological sensitivity of Arctic butterflies to warming is the outcome of interactions between life-history traits and regional climate, with all species sensitive to warming the summer before the flight year as well as warming the spring of the flight year. B. freija, which overwinters as late instar larvae that do not feed before pupation the following spring, was particularly strongly affected by summer warming.
26 Aug 2023Submitted to Ecography
28 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
28 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
28 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
08 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor