Ecologically realistic modalities in arthropod supercooling point distributions

Timothy Hawes, Jeffrey Bale, Peter Convey, MR Worland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Modality in the supercooling points of cold tolerant but freezing intolerant terrestrial arthropods has proved a pragmatically reliable means of distinguishing between summer and winter cold hardiness in such species. This paper proposes an ecologically realistic method of modal analysis which may either be used in lieu of the traditional separation of supercooling points into "high" and "low" groups, or as a complementary assessment of the risk of freezing mortality. Instead of a posteriori determinations of modal break points, animal supercooling points are assigned a priori to one of four categories of cold hardiness: (1) summer cold-hardy; (2) semi-cold-hardy; (3) cold-hardy; and (4) winter cold-hardy. Each category is identified by the temperature range within which arthropods can be expected to freeze. The temperature ranges assigned to each category are based on a conservative, but realistic, assessment of the temperatures at which animals can be expected to freeze at a given point in the season. The approach has greater discriminatory power than traditional bimodal descriptors (i.e."summer" and "winter" cold-hardy), as well as allowing animal supercooling points to be related to the temperatures they actually experience in their habitats. Thus, for example, animals considered "summer" cold-hardy according to conventional analysis may actually be "semi-cold-bardy" with supercooling points well within the safety margin of minimum ambient temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-723
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Entomology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • categories of cold hardiness
  • supercooling point
  • cold hardiness
  • bimodality


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