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Large reorganizations in butterfly communities during an extreme weather event

De Palma, A., Dennis, R. L. H., Brereton, T., Leather, S. R. and Oliver, T. H. (2017) Large reorganizations in butterfly communities during an extreme weather event. Ecography, 40 (5). pp. 577-585. ISSN 0906-7590

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02228


Drought events are projected to increase in frequency and magnitude, which may alter the composition of ecological communities. Using a functional community metric that describes abundance, life history traits and conservation status, based upon Grime’s CSR (Competitive-Stress tolerant-Ruderal)¬ scheme, we investigated how British butterfly communities changed during an extreme drought in 1995. Throughout Britain, the total abundance of these insects had a significant tendency to increase, accompanied by substantial changes in community composition, particularly in more northerly, wetter sites. Communities tended to shift away from specialist, vulnerable species, and towards generalist, widespread species and, in the year following, communities had yet to return to equilibrium. Importantly, heterogeneity in surrounding landscapes mediated community responses to the drought event. Contrary to expectation, however, community shifts were more extreme in areas of greater topographic diversity, whilst land-cover diversity buffered community changes and limited declines in vulnerable specialist butterflies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:64078


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