Habitat amount and distribution modify community dynamics under climate change

Yoan Fourcade*, Michiel F. WallisDeVries, Mikko Kuussaari, Chris A.M. van Swaay, Janne Heliölä, Erik Öckinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Habitat fragmentation may present a major impediment to species range shifts caused by climate change, but how it affects local community dynamics in a changing climate has so far not been adequately investigated empirically. Using long-term monitoring data of butterfly assemblages, we tested the effects of the amount and distribution of semi-natural habitat (SNH), moderated by species traits, on climate-driven species turnover. We found that spatially dispersed SNH favoured the colonisation of warm-adapted and mobile species. In contrast, extinction risk of cold-adapted species increased in dispersed (as opposed to aggregated) habitats and when the amount of SNH was low. Strengthening habitat networks by maintaining or creating stepping-stone patches could thus allow warm-adapted species to expand their range, while increasing the area of natural habitat and its spatial cohesion may be important to aid the local persistence of species threatened by a warming climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-957
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number5
Early online date11 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Butterflies
  • climate change
  • community dynamics
  • community temperature index
  • fragmentation
  • habitat amount
  • habitat configuration
  • semi-natural habitat
  • species traits


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