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Ecology. 2011 May;92(5):1005-12.

Species' traits predict phenological responses to climate change in butterflies.

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Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


How do species' traits help identify which species will respond most strongly to future climate change? We examine the relationship between species' traits and phenology in a well-established model system for climate change, the U.K. Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS). Most resident U.K. butterfly species have significantly advanced their dates of first appearance during the past 30 years. We show that species with narrower larval diet breadth and more advanced overwintering stages have experienced relatively greater advances in their date of first appearance. In addition, species with smaller range sizes have experienced greater phenological advancement. Our results demonstrate that species' traits can be important predictors of responses to climate change, and they suggest that further investigation of the mechanisms by which these traits influence phenology may aid in understanding species' responses to current and future climate change.

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