Drivers of moth phenology in England and Wales



Hickinbotham E, Pattison Z, Fox R & Rushton SP (2024) Drivers of moth phenology in England and Wales. Journal of Insect Conservation.

Climate change has led to changes in the phenology of Lepidoptera species. While phenological shifts have been previously measured for moth species in England and Wales, the drivers of these shifts are not well known. Here, we use data from the National Moth Recording Scheme and the Garden Moth Scheme to investigate the drivers of phenology in 149 moth species over a 50 year period from 1970 to 2019. We investigate whether there have been phenological shifts in adult emergence using three phenology metrics: First Emergence (FE), Peak Emergence (PE), and Emergence Standard Deviation (ESD) in relation to life history traits and temperature. Overwintering stage had a significant impact on moth phenology, so we analysed species that spend the winter as eggs, larvae or pupae separately. Overall phenological changes were different depending on overwintering stage category and phenological measure, with the rate of phenological shifts increasing with later overwintering life stages in response to both temperature and year. The overwintering stage larva was the only one impacted by diet, with those that feed on woody hostplants emerging ~ 17 days later than species with herbaceous hostplants. These results indicate that species that either overwinter in earlier life stages or have woody hostplants may be less adaptable to climate change, and thus should be the targets of conservation efforts.

Phenology; Climate change; Lepidoptera; Life history traits; Linear mixed effects modelling

Journal of Insect Conservation

StatusIn Press
FundersNewcastle University
Publication date online30/04/2024
Date accepted by journal24/03/2024
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

People (2)


Ms Emily Hickinbotham

Ms Emily Hickinbotham

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr Zarah Pattison

Dr Zarah Pattison

Senior Lecturer in Plant Sciences, Biological and Environmental Sciences