Many aphid species are specialist herbivores and major pests of agriculture, forestry and horticulture. They have short generation times and rapid growth rates making them one of the invertebrate groups that are most sensitive to climate change.
SASA monitors aphids caught in four 12.2m suction traps operated continuously at Dundee (since 1967), Edinburgh (1969), Elgin (1970) and Ayr (1974). Daily records of abundance of aphid species are available from the main aphid flight season and weekly records from other times.
Within the EU-funded EXAMINE project a consortium of scientists involved in collecting national data on aphid distribution has developed one of the most comprehensive databases for any terrestrial invertebrate group anywhere in the world. EXAMINE covers a network of standard suction traps established in 22 countries, providing a unique resource for studies on the impacts of global change on phenology and abundance(http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/examine/).
Negative trends were found when the dates of first capture in the Scottish suction traps were examined for 43 out of 46 aphid species over the period 1971–2004. Twenty of these 43 trends were statistically significant and the mean trend indicates that over this 34-year period the date of first capture in 2004 was earlier by 0.47 days/annum or 16 days in total. The average response to temperature was 12.5 days/°C. The green spruce aphid (Elatobium abietinum) has advanced by 4.3 days/decade and 8.1 days/°C and has been proposed as an indicator species for looking at terrestrial phenology (Sparks et al., 2006).
Suction trap catches can be used to study changes in the biodiversity of a wide range of insect groups. Only aphids are currently identified, but historic catches are retained at SASA.
Sparks, T.H., Collinson, N., Crick, H., Croxton, P., Edwards, M., Huber, K., Jenkins, D., Johns, D., Last, F., Maberly, S., Marquiss, M., Pickup, J., Roy, D., Sims, D., Shaw, D., Turner, A., Watson, A., Woiwod, I. and Woodbridge, K. (2006). Natural Heritage Trends of Scotland: phenological indicators of climate change. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 167 (ROAME No. F01NB01)