What is it about?
I was interested in shape and size varied between a species that is not moving north under climate change (the large red damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula) and a species that has been expanding its range into Scotland (the azure damselfly, Coenagrion puella). I collected animals at a series of sites from southern England to Scotland for both species. The results showed that there was little consistent variation in size or dispersal traits in P. nymphula but that C. puella showed increases in size and the relative investment in the thorax and abdomen (indicative of greater flight ability). These results, taken together, suggest that there has been evolution in the characteristics of the animal related to dispersal in the expanding C. puella.
Why is it important?
The presence of traits that could facilitate response to climate change, such as enhanced dispersal to increase colonisation of new habitats, could make the difference between a species thriving or failing under climate change. This is particularly important for species that rely on aquatic habitats for their life cycle, because water resources are predicted to be under increasing threat in the future.
The following have contributed to this page: Dr Christopher Hassall