Variable rates of response by species to climate change

Georgina Palmer (1), Jane K Hill (2), Tom M Brereton (3), David R Brooks (4), Jason W Chapman (5), Richard Fox (6), Tom H Oliver (7), Chris D Thomas(8)

 

1 Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York, YO10 5DD, UK,  georgina.palmer@york.ac.uk, @GeorginaTwit

2 Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York, YO10 5DD, UK,  jane.hill@york.ac.uk, @JaneHillYork

3 Butterfly Conservation, Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5QP, UK.  tbrereton@butterfly-conservation.org @tom_m_brereton

4 AgroEcology Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK  david.brooks@rothamsted.ac.uk

5 AgroEcology Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK  jason.chapman@rothamsted.ac.uk

5 Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK

6 Butterfly Conservation, Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5QP, UK  rfox@butterfly-conservation.org @RichardFoxBC

7 University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 217, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6AH, UK toliver@ceh.ac.uk @Dr_Dolittle_81

8 Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York, YO10 5DD, UK,  chris.thomas@york.ac.uk, @Prof_CThomas

Species’ responses to recent environmental changes have been highly heterogeneous, showing variation in abundance trends, geographic range size changes, and directions of range shifts. Using distribution and abundance data collected for British butterflies (n = 24 species) and moths (n = 131 species), we show that approximately 60% of overall explained variation in abundance trends can be accounted for by species- specific sensitivities and exposure to climate. Less direct measures of changes in status (range size and northern  range  margin)  were  also  predictable,  but  more  weakly  so.  These  results  indicate  that individualistic responses to climate are responsible for a large component of the observed variation among species in their distribution and abundance changes. We go on to examine whether any additional variation can be explained by species-specific habitat specialism and habitat availability. We conclude that variation in species’ responses to recent climate change may be more predictable than previously recognized.

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.


Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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