Global Warming and the Regional Persistence of a Temperate-Zone Insect (Tenodera sinensis)

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Models based on the paleoecological record predict that animals in temperate regions will respond to global warming by migrating poleward to remain within their temperature tolerance ranges. The effect of global warming on invertebrates is of great concern because of their critical role in ecosystem structure and function. Migration poses a problem for many species because of their limited dispersal abilities. The life cycle of a typical temperate zone univoltine insect, Tenodera sinensis (Mantodea: Mantidae) is constrained by degree-days per season: too few prevent maturation before the killing frost in the autumn; too many allow egg hatch before a killing frost. We used field and laboratory observations on the life history and ecology of this species to predict the effect of global warming on the regional distribution of this insect by the end of the next century. Based on the simplified, best-case, biological assumptions of our model, the geographical range of T. sinensis in eastern North America would be compressed toward the northern part of its present contiguous regional distribution. This and other univoltine temperate species with long maturation periods and low vagility could face regional extinction if global warming predictions are accurate.

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