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Climate and recent range changes in butterflies

  • Jane K. Hill
  • Chris D. Thomas
  • Brian Huntley

Abstract

In order to make realistic predictions of species’ responses to future climate change we need to understand the relative importance of biotic versus abiotic factors in limiting species distributions. We focus on British butterflies, a group of species for which there are good current and historical distribution records. We review our previous studies investigating the relative importance of climate and habitat availability in limiting butterfly distributions. Our studies have used a combination of modelling and analysis of distribution records to investigate factors determining limits to species’ distributions in Europe, and to investigate recent range expansions of butterflies in Britain. Climates in Europe have warmed during the 20th century and many northern areas are improving for butterflies in terms of climate suitability. However, the widespread loss and fragmentation of natural habitats means that many climatically suitable areas are beyond the reach of dispersing adults and so species are unable to keep track of climate changes. In the future, many species may have the potential to occupy many northerly regions that are currently unsuitable. However, most of these newly available areas are remote from current distributions and many species are unlikely to be able to keep track of rapidly warming future climates.

Keywords

Range Expansion Butterfly Species Habitat Availability Climate Suitability Bioclimate Variable 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane K. Hill
    • 1
    • 3
  • Chris D. Thomas
    • 2
  • Brian Huntley
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation, School of BiologyUniv. of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.Environmental Research Centre, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK

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