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In the single downpour experiment, P.

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Irrespective of the rain exposure treatments, P. Also in P. For both species, immature development was slower and adults were lighter in the second than in the first experiment. In the single downpour experiment, leaf concentrations of sinigrin, the dominant GS produced by B.

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In the second experiment in which plants were exposed to three brief downpours per day, sinigrin concentrations tended to be high irrespective of the rainfall regime and herbivore treatment compare Fig. In the absence of downpours during the insect feeding phase R00, R10 , sinigrin levels were not affected by P. When downpours occurred once a day, total sugar concentration in leaf tissues was affected by downpour regime and herbivory Fig. Feeding by the herbivores reduced foliar sugar and this effect was stronger for P. In the second experiment with three downpours per day, the effects of downpour regime and herbivory were similar but less significant than in the first experiment Fig.

Simulated rainfall, which mimicked downpours occurring during thunderstorms, had a profound direct negative effect on the survival of P. By contrast, the survival of P. Direct exposure of insects on plants to downpours also increased development time of the two herbivores, whereas the effects of downpours on adult body mass were more idiosyncratic. Feeding in P. When disturbed, they often drop from the food plant along a silk thread, which is later used by the larvae to climb back onto the plant.

However, heavy rainfall may prevent this from occurring Kobori and Amano By contrast, larvae of P. Moreover, P. Therefore, P. In a previous study, we reported that caterpillars of P. The higher mortality of P. First instar caterpillars of P. Though females of both species lay their eggs predominantly on the underside off the leaves, it cannot be excluded that downpours affects survival of eggs, thus underestimating the effect on survival in this study.

The direct effect of downpours on development time was possibly caused by the fact that during downpours caterpillars do not feed.

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Even after the downpour ended, feeding was not immediately resumed. We also found that the temperature near the leaf surface dropped dramatically in response to the downpours, and it took more than 1 h before the temperature returned to its original level. Metabolism and growth rate in ectotherms such as insects are strongly determined by ambient temperature.

In addition to disturbance, microclimatic cooling caused by rain may explain the extended immature development times of the two herbivores. In both species, extended larval development time coincided with adults being heavier, but only in the experiment in which the caterpillars were exposed to three short downpour events. This effect was more prominent for P. In contrast, although development time of P. Predation of caterpillars by birds Great Tits was considerably reduced when reared on plants exposed to wind. Whether a similar scenario could hold for increased exposure to rain remains to be investigated.

Heavy downpours are not only likely to have direct effects on insect herbivores, but on their natural enemies as well. However, the result of this study suggests that abiotic factors such as rainfall need to be prolonged or more frequent in order to induce phenotypic shifts, as this phenomenon was only observed in the experiment in which rainfall frequency was increased to three times per day.

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Indirect effects of rainfall may affect food plant quality through both chemical and morphological changes. The two groups of chemicals measured in this study, glucosinolates and sugars, thus, represent only a very small subset of the full arsenal of traits in plants that can affect the performance of insect herbivores and of which the expression may also change in response to rain.

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In plants exposed to both rainfall single daily events and herbivory, the induction of foliar levels of sinigrin, the dominant GS in B. This result suggests that, in B. However, specialist herbivores such as P. In the second experiment, in which the frequency but not duration of downpours was increased, sinigrin concentrations were high in all plants including those that were not exposed to rain and or herbivory.

These concentrations are high in comparison with results previously reported for B. It is not clear why the concentrations were higher in the second than in the first experiment, but it seemed that the conditions were less favorable for both the plant and the herbivores on control plants, caterpillars developed faster and were heavier in the first than in the second experiment.

The second experiment was conducted in a greenhouse in winter, whereas the first experiment was conducted in a greenhouse in autumn. Sugar concentrations declined significantly in response to rain, but only during early development of plants before the insects were feeding on them. Sugar concentrations were also lower in leaf tissues that had been exposed to herbivory, especially feeding by P. Previous studies have shown that plant nutrients can be leached from leaf tissues by rainfall Tukey , Schreiber Moreover, damaged leaves of plants are much more susceptible to leaching than undamaged leaves Tukey Feeding damage by P.

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In addition, changes in nitrogen, a very important nutrient that is usually very low in plant tissues, and changes in morphological traits should be considered to better understand how abiotic factors influence the nutritional quality for and resistance to insect herbivores. At the other end of extreme weather events, periods of extended drought are also predicted to increase in frequency under conditions of climate warming. In particular, heat waves and droughts generate conditions that are very different from heavy downpours. Prolonged lack of water and exposure to extreme heat can inflict huge physiological stresses both on plants and higher trophic level organisms.

For instance, Walsh found that, after a serious drought event, factors influencing the microclimate better explained the population decline of an endangered butterfly species, the Karner blue butterfly Lycaeides melissa samuelis than the biotic factors.


These results demonstrate the relative importance of abiotic factors on the survival of small ectothermic organisms. Moreover, it is important to note that heat waves, droughts, and intense, sudden downpours can occur in close proximity, e. These contrasting abiotic conditions may induce a range of different, and even opposite, stresses on plants and insects associated with them. Asymmetric effects of rainfall on population dynamics of species within and across trophic levels have consequences for the structure of the whole community.

Our study emphasizes the importance of rainfall in understanding the effects of climate change on ecological responses in trophic chains and broader ecological communities. We also thank Ciska Raaijmakers for helping with chemical analyses. We declare that there are no conflicts of interest. Please note: The publisher is not responsible for the content or functionality of any supporting information supplied by the authors.

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Article Open Access. Jeffrey A. Rieta Gols Corresponding Author E-mail address: rieta. Corresponding Editor: James T. The copyright line for this article was changed on 20 August after original online publication. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.