Article thumbnail

Beyond climate envelopes: effects of weather on regional population trends in butterflies

By Michiel F. WallisDeVries, Wendy Baxter and Arnold J. H. Van Vliet


Although the effects of climate change on biodiversity are increasingly evident by the shifts in species ranges across taxonomical groups, the underlying mechanisms affecting individual species are still poorly understood. The power of climate envelopes to predict future ranges has been seriously questioned in recent studies. Amongst others, an improved understanding of the effects of current weather on population trends is required. We analysed the relation between butterfly abundance and the weather experienced during the life cycle for successive years using data collected within the framework of the Dutch Butterfly Monitoring Scheme for 40 species over a 15-year period and corresponding climate data. Both average and extreme temperature and precipitation events were identified, and multiple regression was applied to explain annual changes in population indices. Significant weather effects were obtained for 39 species, with the most frequent effects associated with temperature. However, positive density-dependence suggested climatic independent trends in at least 12 species. Validation of the short-term predictions revealed a good potential for climate-based predictions of population trends in 20 species. Nevertheless, data from the warm and dry year of 2003 indicate that negative effects of climatic extremes are generally underestimated for habitat specialists in drought-susceptible habitats, whereas generalists remain unaffected. Further climatic warming is expected to influence the trends of 13 species, leading to an improvement for nine species, but a continued decline in the majority of species. Expectations from climate envelope models overestimate the positive effects of climate change in northwestern Europe. Our results underline the challenge to include population trends in predicting range shifts in response to climate change

Topics: Global change ecology - Original Paper
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.

Suggested articles


  1. (2009). EVects of temperature and elevation on habitat use by a rare mountain butterXy: implications for species responses to climate change.
  2. (1999). IntraspeciWc variation in habitat availability among ectothermic animals near their climatic limits and their centres of range. Funct Ecol 13:55–64 Thomas CD, Bodsworth EJ,
  3. (2007). New climate change scenarios for The Netherlands. Water Sci Technol 56:27–33. doi:10.2166/wst.2007.533