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Title (Primary) Thermal flexibility and a generalist life history promote urban affinity in butterflies
Author Callaghan, C.T.; Bowler, D.E.; Pereira, H.M.
Journal Global Change Biology
Year 2021
Department iDiv; ESS
Volume 27
Issue 15
Page From 3532
Page To 3546
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
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Keywords butterflies; climate change; GBIF; generalism; lepidoptera; trait-based ecology; urban tolerance
Abstract Urban expansion poses a serious threat to biodiversity. Given that the expected area of urban land cover is predicted to increase by 2–3 million km2 by 2050, urban environments are one of the most widespread human-dominated land-uses affecting biodiversity. Responses to urbanization differ greatly among species. Some species are unable to tolerate urban environments (i.e., urban avoiders), others are able to adapt and use areas with moderate levels of urbanization (i.e., urban adapters), and yet others are able to colonize and even thrive in urban environments (i.e., urban exploiters). Quantifying species-specific responses to urbanization remains an important goal, but our current understanding of urban tolerance is heavily biased toward traditionally well-studied taxa (e.g., mammals and birds). We integrated a continuous measure of urbanization—night-time lights—with over 900,000 species' observations from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to derive a comprehensive analysis of species-specific (N = 158 species) responses of butterflies to urbanization across Europe. The majority of butterfly species included in our analysis avoided urban areas, regardless of whether species' urban affinities were quantified as a mean score of urban affinity across all occurrences (79%) or as a species' response curve to the whole urbanization gradient (55%). We then used species-specific responses to urbanization to assess which life history strategies promote urban affinity in butterflies. These trait-based analyses found strong evidence that the average number of flight months, likely associated with thermal niche breath, and number of adult food types were positively associated with urban affinity, while hostplant specialism was negatively associated with urban affinity. Overall, our results demonstrate that specialist butterflies, both in terms of thermal and diet preferences, are most at risk from increasing urbanization, and should thus be considered in urban planning and prioritized for conservation.
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Callaghan, C.T., Bowler, D.E., Pereira, H.M. (2021):
Thermal flexibility and a generalist life history promote urban affinity in butterflies
Glob. Change Biol. 27 (15), 3532 - 3546