Habitat associations of species show consistent but weak responses to climate

Andrew J. Suggitt*, Constantí Stefanescu, Ferran Páramo, Tom Oliver, Barbara J. Anderson, Jane K. Hill, David B. Roy, Tom Brereton, Chris D. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Different vegetation types can generate variation in microclimates at local scales, potentially buffering species from adverse climates. To determine if species could respond to such microclimates under climatic warming, we evaluated whether ectothermic species (butterflies) can exploit favourable microclimates and alter their use of different habitats in response to year-to-year variation in climate. In both relatively cold (Britain) and warm (Catalonia) regions of their geographical ranges,most species shifted into cooler, closed habitats (e.g. woodland) in hot years, and into warmer, open habitats (e.g. grassland) in cooler years. Additionally, three-quarters of species occurred in closed habitats more frequently in the warm region than in the cool region. Thus, species shift their local distributions and alter their habitat associations to exploit favourable microclimates, although the magnitude of the shift (approx. 1.3% of individuals from open to shade, per degree Celsius) is unlikely to buffer species from impacts of regional climate warming. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-593
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number4
Early online date4 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


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