SYMP 21-5
What biology matters for forecasting species’ response to environmental change?

Thursday, August 8, 2013: 3:40 PM
Auditorium, Rm 3, Minneapolis Convention Center
Lauren B. Buckley, Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Joel Kingsolver, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Cesar R. Nufio, Museum and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, CO

In response to past climate changes, species have shifted their phenology, distribution, and abundances in different directions and to different extents.  These individualistic responses are inconsistent with most techniques for ecological forecasting, which rely on estimating an environmental niche.  What biological details should be incorporated in these models to improve forecasts?  We are repeating historic lab and field studies and examining museum specimens to investigate how insect phenotypes and phenotypic shifts have determined ecological and evolutionary responses to climate change in two Colorado alpine systems over the last 50 years: Colias butterflies and grasshoppers.   For grasshoppers, we are comparing the responses along an elevation gradient of four focal species that differ in dispersal ability and the potential for local adaptation. 


We find evidence that the grasshopper species differ in thermal tolerances and performance as well as development rate.  The species also differ in the extent of local adaptation of these phenotypes along the elevation gradient.  These differences are beginning to account for the individualistic responses of our focal grasshoppers to recent climate change.  But how can we scale up to make the broad scale predictions for many species that are essential to management?  We address approaches to tractably include morphological, physiological, and life history details to enhance ecological forecasts.