Little effect of climate change on body size of herbivorous beetles

Yuval Baar, Ariel Leib Leonid Friedman, Shai Meiri, Inon Scharf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ongoing climate change affects various aspects of an animal's life, with important effects on distribution range and phenology. The relationship between global warming and body size changes in mammals and birds has been widely studied, with most findings indicating a decline in body size over time. Nevertheless, little data exist on similar size change patterns of invertebrates in general and insects in particular, and it is unclear whether insects should decrease in size or not with climate warming. We measured over 4000 beetle specimens, belonging to 29 beetle species in 8 families, collected in Israel during the last 100 years. The sampled species are all herbivorous. We examined whether beetle body size had changed over the years, while also investigating the relationships between body size and annual temperature, precipitation, net primary productivity (NPP) at the collection site and collection month. None of the environmental variables, including the collection year, was correlated with the size of most of the studied beetle species, while there were strong interactions of all variables with species. Our results, though mostly negative, suggest that the effect of climate change on insect body size is species-specific and by no means a general macro-ecological rule. They also suggest that the intrapopulation variance in body size of insects collected as adults in the field is large enough to conceal intersite environmental effects on body size, such as the effect of temperature and NPP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalInsect Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Coleoptera
  • museum collections
  • rain
  • temperature–size rule
  • thermal ecology


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