Aquatic Sciences

, 80:7 | Cite as

Does the Tachet trait database report voltinism variability of aquatic insects between Mediterranean and Scandinavian regions?

  • Núria BonadaEmail author
  • Sylvain Dolédec
Research Article


Labile traits are those that are not constrained by phylogeny and should respond directly to the environment through local adaptation or phenotypic plasticity. For example, voltinism (number of generations per year) is a labile trait that has been consistently related to latitude and, in particular, to temperature and photoperiod changes. Current trait databases include several labile traits that, at best, are coarsely coded to include potential intraspecific trait variability obtained from different literature sources. Given that these databases are used across large regions with contrasting environmental conditions or in small regions with particular environmental conditions, the reliability of these studies could be compromised at least for labile traits because of interpopulation variability. Based on a review of the literature on the life cycles of 317 aquatic insect species, we compared their types of voltinism in two regions with contrasting environmental conditions (the Mediterranean Basin and Scandinavia) with the information published by Tachet et al. (Invertébrés d’eau douce: systématique, biologie, écologie, 3rd edn. CNRS Éditions, Paris, 2010) (i.e., potential number of generations per year). We found the expected higher prevalence of multivoltine life cycles in the Mediterranean Basin, whereas univoltine and semivoltine life cycles showed trends of prominence in Scandinavia. In addition, the life-cycle profiles of the genera included in the Tachet et al. database (hereafter TAC) were situated between those found in the Mediterranean Basin and Scandinavia, suggesting that this database properly represents voltinism variability across Europe. However, the use of this database exclusively for the northern or southern regions may be challenging because TAC is not able to accurately represent the life cycles of the species in these regions, especially for univoltine and multivoltine species. Future studies in stream ecology should thus put efforts into quantifying and understanding the role of intra-taxon trait variability in community assembly, at least for labile traits, to better understand trait-environment relationships.


Aquatic macroinvertebrates Biological traits Intra-taxon variability Climatic regions Fuzzy coding Life cycles Tachet’s database 



We would like to thank Manuel Tierno de Figueroa for providing life-cycle information from Mediterranean species and for insightful comments on an early version of the manuscript; and the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions which improved the manuscript. The second author has been supported by the European Communities 7th Framework Program Funding under Grant agreement no. 603629-ENV-2013-6.2.1-Globaqua.

Supplementary material

27_2017_554_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 38 KB)


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grup de Recerca Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals, Facultat de Biologia, Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio)Universitat de Barcelona (UB)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.UMR 5023, LEHNA, Biodiversité et Plasticité dans les HydrosystèmesVilleurbanneFrance

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