Functional traits help to explain half-century long shifts in pollinator distributions

Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez*, W.D. Kissling, Luísa G. Carvalheiro, Michiel F. WallisDevries, Markus Franzén, Jacobus C. Biesmeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in climate and land use can have important impacts on biodiversity. Species respond to such environmental modifications by adapting to new conditions or by shifting their geographic distributions towards more suitable areas. The latter might be constrained by species' functional traits that influence their ability to move, reproduce or establish. Here, we show that functional traits related to dispersal, reproduction, habitat use and diet have influenced how three pollinator groups (bees, butterflies and hoverflies) responded to changes in climate and land-use in the Netherlands since 1950. Across the three pollinator groups, we found pronounced areal range expansions (>53%) and modelled range shifts towards the north (all taxa: 17-22 km), west (bees: 14 km) and east (butterflies: 11 km). The importance of specific functional traits for explaining distributional changes varied among pollinator groups. Larval diet preferences (i.e. carnivorous vs. herbivorous/detritivorous and nitrogen values of host plants, respectively) were important for hoverflies and butterflies, adult body size for hoverflies, and flight period length for all groups. Moreover, interactions among multiple traits were important to explain species' geographic range shifts, suggesting that taxon-specific multi-trait analyses are needed to predict how global change will affect biodiversity and ecosystem services.!

Original languageEnglish
Article number24451
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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