Can phenological shifts compensate for adverse effects of climate change on butterfly metapopulation viability?

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Abstract

The interaction between climate change and habitat fragmentation has been presented as a deadly anthropogenic cocktail. We cannot stop climate change, but it is within our circle of influence as ecologists to suggest landscape adaptation. Detailed population models that take into account climate change are considerably needed. We explore a detailed individual-based spatially explicit metapopulation model of a univoltine butterfly species where all processes are affected by daily weather, using historical daily weather data and future daily projections as input, in order to examine responses of a butterfly population in landscapes under various states of fragmentation and two climate change scenarios. This tool is used to investigate how landscapes could be adapted to compensate for possible negative impacts of climate change on population performance. We find that our model butterfly metapopulation was not only able to escape adverse conditions in summer by phenological shifts, but even to benefit from climatic warming. Varying either the amount of suitable habitat or patch size revealed a sharp threshold in population viability. In this particular case, however, the threshold was not affected by climate change and climate-dependent landscape adaptation was not required. The model presented here can be adapted for other species and applied to investigate scenarios for landscape adaptation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-81
JournalEcological Modelling
Volume227
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • habitat fragmentation
  • extinction thresholds
  • british butterflies
  • extreme weather
  • change impacts
  • range margins
  • models
  • populations
  • landscapes
  • dynamics

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