Eur. J. Entomol. 96 (2): 103-109, 1999

Species at the edge of their range: The significance of the thermal environment for the distribution of congeneric Craspedolepta species (Sternorrhyncha: Psylloidea) living on Chamerion angustifolium (Onagraceae)


There is much current discussion about the factors that control the distribution and abundance of animal species, particularly at the edges of their range. The significance of temperature for survival and development is compared in two closely related psyllid species (Craspedolepta nebulosa and C. subpunctata) living on the same host plant (Chamerion angustifolium) (Onagraceae) but displaying different distributions along latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. The following measurements were made at critical periods during the life cycle (a) winter supercooling points (SCPs), (b) tolerance of short (1 min) and long term (1-25) days exposure to sub-zero temperatures above the SCP, (c) tolerance of short term exposure to high spring/summer temperatures and (d) comparative field development rates among species and sites during the early critical part of the growing season. Successful completion of the life cycle is related to heat availability during the growing season. This appears to limit the distribution of the Craspedolepta species, rather than their survival response to thermal extremes. No significant differences were found between the two species in the supercooling point or in their long and short term survival responses at low or high temperatures.

Keywords: Psylloidea, Craspedolepta, fireweed, rosebay willow-herb, Chamerion, low temperature, high temperature, development rate, growing season, distribution

Accepted: December 21, 1998; Published: June 30, 1999

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