Through a unique research collaboration, researchers at the University of Helsinki have exposed major changes taking place in the insect communities of the Arctic. Their study reveals how climate change is affecting small but important predators of other insects, i.e. parasitoids.

“Predators at the top of the food web give us a clue to what is happening to their prey species, too. These results increase our understanding of how global warming is changing nature. At the same time, they suggest new inroads for finding answers to big questions in the field of ecology”, says Professor Tomas Roslin from the University of Helsinki and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

The researchers’ main discovery was that clear traces of climate change can already be seen in arctic insect communities.

“In areas where summers are rapidly warming, we find a higher proportion of cold-sensitive predators than we might expect based on the previous climate”, Roslin notes.

The study joined research teams working in Greenland, Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland and Iceland, which together compared regions where the climate has changed at different rates and in different ways in recent decades.

The research group was supported by INTERACT Trans-National Access.

Read more at the University of Helsinki website.

Parasitoid wasps can be divided into two groups: idiobionts and koinobionts. Cryptus arcticus is an idiobiont attacking host larvae just as they are pupating. Since the host is already immobile at this stage, the parasitoid has to overwinter on site chosen by the host. Photo: Tuomas kankaanpää


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