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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Habitat amount and distribution modify community dynamics under climate change

Fourcade, Yoan; WallisDeVries, Michiel F.; Kuussaari, Mikko; van Swaay, Chris A. M.; Heliola, Janne; Ockinger, Erik


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.


Butterflies; climate change; community dynamics; community temperature index; fragmentation; habitat amount; habitat configuration; semi‐natural habitat; species traits

Published in

Ecology Letters
2021, Volume: 24, number: 5, pages: 950-957
Publisher: WILEY

      SLU Authors

    • Fourcade, Yoan

      • Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Universite Paris-Est-Creteil-Val-de-Marne (UPEC)
    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG13 Climate action

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