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Terrestrial arthropod abundance and phenology in the Canadian Arctic: modelling resource availability for Arctic-nesting insectivorous birds

  • Elise Bolduc (a1), Nicolas Casajus (a1), Pierre Legagneux (a1), Laura McKinnon (a1), H. Grant Gilchrist (a2), Maria Leung (a3), R.I. Guy Morrison (a2), Don Reid (a4), Paul A. Smith (a5), Christopher M. Buddle (a6) and Joël Bêty (a1)...


Arctic arthropods are essential prey for many vertebrates, including birds, but arthropod populations and phenology are susceptible to climate change. The objective of this research was to model the relationship between seasonal changes in arthropod abundance and weather variables using data from a collaborative pan-Canadian (Southampton, Herschel, Bylot, and Ellesmere Islands) study on terrestrial arthropods. Arthropods were captured with passive traps that provided a combined measure of abundance and activity (a proxy for arthropod availability to foraging birds). We found that 70% of the deviance in daily arthropod availability was explained by three temperature covariates: mean daily temperature, thaw degree-day, and thaw degree-day2. Models had an adjusted R2 of 0.29–0.95 with an average among sites and arthropod families of 0.67. This indicates a moderate to strong fit to the raw data. The models for arthropod families with synchronous emergence, such as Tipulidae (Diptera), had a better fit (average adjusted R2 of 0.80) than less synchronous taxa, such as Araneae (R2 = 0.60). Arthropod abundance was typically higher in wet than in mesic habitats. Our models will serve as tools for researchers who want to correlate insectivorous bird breeding data to arthropod availability in the Canadian Arctic.


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