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Browsing by Subject "trends"

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  • Kohonen, Ilmari (2020)
    Global biodiversity continues to decline. Recent reports of decline in insect abundance and biomass are concerning, given the crucial roles insects play in multiple ecosystem processes, such as pollination, nutrient cycling and as a food resource for higher trophic levels. Based on the current state of the literature, it appears that total insect abundance and biomass are in decline, but there is considerable variation in trajectories in different regions and taxa. Many studies report on either aggregated community abundance or biomass, but few have examined how closely these two variables are correlated. For example, declining trends in large-bodied species could have disproportionately large effects on total biomass, even if total abundance remained stable. This, in turn, could have substantial consequences for predators dependent on insect biomass for food. Whether studying total abundance or biomass, long-term monitoring data are essential for robust estimation of temporal trends. In my thesis, I investigated trends in macro-moth abundance and biomass using data from the Finnish moth monitoring scheme (Nocturna) over a period of 24 years (1993-2016). My main objectives were to explore whether total abundance and biomass have changed over the timeframe examined, and to estimate the degree of correlation between the two variables in these data. As is typical for monitoring programs, only counts of moth individuals have been recorded. In order to obtain information on biomass, I created a predictive model for converting the recorded abundance counts to dry biomass based on species mean wingspan and body robustness. I weighed museum collection specimens of common moth species of variable sizes, and used these data for fitting the model. Additionally, I also investigated how local weather (thermal and precipitation) conditions during the growing season and winter relate to interannual variation in total abundance. Finally, I analysed potentially informative species traits (e.g., wingspan, voltinism, overwintering stage) in relation to population trends of individual species, because such associations could be underlying change in total abundance or biomass. There was no long-term change in total macro-moth abundance or biomass over the 24-year monitoring period. Abundance and biomass were very highly correlated (r > 0.9). In terms of interannual variation, total moth abundance and biomass showed a distinctive pattern suggestive of periodicity, with peaks at approximately 10-year intervals. Local weather conditions were very weakly associated with annual change rates of total abundance, leaving the interannual pattern unexplained. Lichen-feeding and multivoltinism (multiple generations per year) were positively related to population trends, supporting earlier findings. Especially relevant to potential trends in biomass, wingspan showed no relationship with positive or negative trends, which is in line with the high correlation between abundance and biomass in this dataset. My results imply that the total abundance and biomass trends in boreal Europe diverge from those commonly reported from temperate Europe. Further research is required to shed light on factors underlying total insect abundance and biomass trends. The method I developed for converting moth abundance to biomass is applicable to similar work elsewhere.