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Climate change impact on Neotropical social wasps

Dejean, Alain and Céréghino, Régis and Carpenter, James M. and Corbara, Bruno and Hérault, Bruno and Rossi, Vivien and Leponce, Maurice and Orivel, Jérôme and Bonal, Damien Climate change impact on Neotropical social wasps. (2011) PLoS ONE, 6 (11). 1-8. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0027004


Establishing a direct link between climate change and fluctuations in animal populations through long-term monitoring is difficult given the paucity of baseline data. We hypothesized that social wasps are sensitive to climatic variations, and thus studied the impact of ENSO events on social wasp populations in French Guiana. We noted that during the 2000 La Nina year there was a 77.1% decrease in their nest abundance along ca. 5 km of forest edges, and that 70.5% of the species were no longer present. Two simultaneous 13-year surveys (1997-2009) confirmed the decrease in social wasps during La Nina years (2000 and 2006), while an increase occurred during the 2009 El Nino year. A 30-year weather survey showed that these phenomena corresponded to particularly high levels of rainfall, and that temperature, humidity and global solar radiation were correlated with rainfall. Using the Self-Organizing Map algorithm, we show that heavy rainfall during an entire rainy season has a negative impact on social wasps. Strong contrasts in rainfall between the dry season and the short rainy season exacerbate this effect. Social wasp populations never recovered to their pre-2000 levels. This is probably because these conditions occurred over four years; heavy rainfall during the major rainy seasons during four other years also had a detrimental effect. On the contrary, low levels of rainfall during the major rainy season in 2009 spurred an increase in social wasp populations. We conclude that recent climatic changes have likely resulted in fewer social wasp colonies because they have lowered the wasps' resistance to parasitoids and pathogens. These results imply that Neotropical social wasps can be regarded as bio-indicators because they highlight the impact of climatic changes not yet perceptible in plants and other animals.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Public Library of Science editor. The definitive version is available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0027004
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:Other partners > AgroParisTech (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique - CIRAD (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > American Museum of Natural History - AMNH (US)
Other partners > Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique - IRSNB (BELGIUM)
Other partners > Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:29 Nov 2013 15:07

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