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Phenology of winter moth feeding on common heather: effects of source population and experimental manipulation of hatch dates

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
DatePublished - May 1997
Issue number3
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)375-385
Original languageEnglish


1. Winter moth Operophtera brumata outbreaks on common heather Calluna vulgaris have recently caused extensive damage to moorlands in Scotland.

2. The importance of synchrony between O. brumata hatching and C. vulgaris budburst in determining subsequent larval survival and development was investigated.

3. Heather-feeding O. brumata populations hatched at least 15 days in advance of an oak-feeding population, and achieved close synchrony with the onset of C. vulgaris shoot growth.

4. Heather-feeding O. brumata biotypes showed significantly greater survival rates than oak-feeding biotypes on C. vulgaris.

5. Experimental delay of O. brumata hatching by 30 days resulted in no drop in larval survival or developmental performance on C. vulgaris, despite a decline in foliar nitrogen concentration over this time.

6. Nutritional compensation mechanisms may explain the apparent insensitivity of O. brumata development to host-plant phenology and nitrogen content.

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