For >1,000 years, Chinese officials have recorded the annual abundance of the oriental migratory locust Locusta migratoria manilensis, with the ultimate aim of predicting locust outbreaks. Linking these records with temperature and precipitation reconstructions for the period 957-1956, we show that decadal mean locust abundance is highest during cold and wet periods. These periods coincide with above-average frequencies of both floods and droughts in the lower Yangtze River, phenomena that are associated with locust outbreaks. Our results imply differential ecological responses to interdecadal and interannual climatic variability. Such frequency-dependent effects deserve increased attention in global warming studies.
Comment In: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 9;104(41):15972-317916623