Contribution of Urban Expansion and a Changing Climate to Decline of a Butterfly Fauna

TitleContribution of Urban Expansion and a Changing Climate to Decline of a Butterfly Fauna
Publication TypeJournal Article
Casner KL, Forister ML, O'brien JM, Thorne J, Waetjen D, Shapiro AM
Year of Publication2014

Butterfly populations are naturally patchy and undergo extinctions and recolonizations. Analyses based on more than 2 decades of data on California's Central Valley butterfly fauna show a net loss in species richness through time. We analyzed 22 years of phenological and faunistic data for butterflies to investigate patterns of species richness over time. We then used 18–22 years of data on changes in regional land use and 37 years of seasonal climate data to develop an explanatory model. The model related the effects of changes in land-use patterns, from working landscapes (farm and ranchland) to urban and suburban landscapes, and of a changing climate on butterfly species richness. Additionally, we investigated local trends in land use and climate. A decline in the area of farmland and ranchland, an increase in minimum temperatures during the summer and maximum temperatures in the fall negatively affected net species richness, whereas increased minimum temperatures in the spring and greater precipitation in the previous summer positively affected species richness. According to the model, there was a threshold between 30% and 40% working-landscape area below which further loss of working-landscape area had a proportionally greater effect on butterfly richness. Some of the isolated effects of a warming climate acted in opposition to affect butterfly richness. Three of the 4 climate variables that most affected richness showed systematic trends (spring and summer mean minimum and fall mean maximum temperatures). Higher spring minimum temperatures were associated with greater species richness, whereas higher summer temperatures in the previous year and lower rainfall were linked to lower richness. Patterns of land use contributed to declines in species richness (although the pattern was not linear), but the net effect of a changing climate on butterfly richness was more difficult to discern.

JournalConservation Biology
Keywordsbiodiversidad, biodiversity, clima, climate, generalized additive model, land use, Lepidoptera, modelo aditivo generalizado, riqueza de especies, species richness, uso de suelo
Citation Keycasner_2014