Robert J Wilson

Robert J Wilson
The National Museum of Natural Sciences · Department of Biogeography and Global Change

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94
Publications
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Publications

Publications (94)
Poster
Full-text available
Mountain ranges in the Mediterranean region acted for many taxa as refugia against historical changes to the climate. However, their role in protecting species against ongoing climate change is yet to be tested widely, partly because of a lack of fine-resolution information on species distributions from recent decades. We tested how the elevational...
Article
Climate-driven geographic range shifts have been associated with transitions between dietary specialism and generalism at range margins. The mechanisms underpinning these often transient niche breadth modifications are poorly known, but utilization of novel resources likely depends on phenological synchrony between the consumer and resource. We use...
Poster
Full-text available
Mountain ranges in the Mediterranean region acted for many taxa as refugia against historical changes to the climate. However, their role in protecting species against ongoing climate change is yet to be tested widely, partly because of a lack of fine-resolution information on species distributions from recent decades. We tested how the elevation r...
Chapter
Full-text available
Los impactos del ser humano sobre el medio ambiente cubren una gran extensión y han aumentado sin precedentes a lo largo del último siglo. En su conjunto, estos impactos han sido denominados como cambio global: un cóctel de presiones antrópicas entre las que se incluyen el uso intensivo del suelo, el cambio climático, la contaminación, las especies...
Article
Trade‐offs between specialist use of particular resources and opportunistic use of widespread materials may present different strategies for survival. Hazel dormice Muscardinus avellanarius are arboreal mammals that in Great Britain hibernate from late autumn to mid spring in nests that are specially built at ground level. Hibernation nests are rar...
Preprint
Climate-driven geographic range shifts have been associated with transitions between dietary specialism and generalism at range margins. The mechanisms underpinning these often transient niche breadth modifications are poorly known, but utilisation of novel resources likely depends on phenological synchrony between the consumer and resource. We use...
Article
Full-text available
The consequences of climate change for biogeographic range dynamics depend on the spatial scales at which climate influences focal species directly and indirectly via biotic interactions. An overlooked question concerns the extent to which microclimates modify specialist biotic interactions, with emergent properties for communities and range dynami...
Article
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Protected area networks seek to ensure the persistence of multiple species, but their area and extent are limited by available land and conservation resources. Prioritising sites based on their quality, quantity, size, or connectivity is often proposed; potentially using the occupancy and metapopulation dynamics of individual threatened species as...
Article
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1. Indices of environmental associations such as the Community Temperature Index (CTI) and Community Precipitation Index (CPI) can be derived from occurrence data to extend the geographic scope or time frame of evidence for responses of insect diversity to global change. 2. We tested whether occurrence records from 1901 to 2016 from the Iberian Pe...
Article
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Mountains are plant biodiversity hotspots considered particularly vulnerable to multiple environmental changes. Here, we quantify population changes and range-shift dynamics along elevational gradients over the last three decades for c. two-thirds of the orchid species of the European Alps. Local extinctions were more likely for small populations,...
Article
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1. Insects have emerged as causes célèbres for widespread concern about human effects on global biodiversity. Here, we consider how insects provide opportunities both to understand the ecological effects of global change and to enhance environmental conservation. 2. Despite a limited time frame and geographic extent of quantitative evidence, recen...
Article
Phenological change is the most widely documented biological impact of climate change, but shows marked variation in magnitude among populations and species. Thus, quantifying the environmental factors and organismal differences driving this intra- and inter-specific variability in phenology is vital to understand and forecast the ecological conseq...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Inferring species' responses to climate change in the absence of long‐term time series data is a challenge, but can be achieved by substituting space for time. For example, thermal elevational gradients represent suitable proxies to study phenological responses to warming. We used butterfly data from two Mediterranean mountain areas to tes...
Article
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Citizen science plays an increasingly important role in biodiversity research and conservation, enabling large volumes of data to be gathered across extensive spatial scales in a cost-effective manner. Open access increases the utility of such data, informing land-use decisions that may affect species persistence, enhancing transparency and encoura...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change has caused widespread shifts in species’ phenology, but the consequences for population and community dynamics remain unclear because of uncertainty regarding the species‐specific drivers of phenology and abundance, and the implications for synchrony among interacting species. Here, we develop a statistical model to quantify inter‐an...
Article
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Species‐focused conservation planning is often based on reducing local extinction risk at key sites. However, with increasing levels of habitat fragmentation and pressures from climate change and overexploitation, surrounding landscapes also influence the persistence of species populations, and their effects are increasingly incorporated in conserv...
Article
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In this study we investigate the environmental factors influencing butterfly communities and evaluate the Natura 2000 network’s effectiveness in representing butterfly species richness and abundance, taking as a case study the island of Cyprus. We sampled butterflies and 11 environmental factors in 60 randomly selected sites across four 500-m eleva...
Article
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Reliable assessment of extinction risk is a key factor in the preparation of Red Lists and in prioritizing biodiversity conservation. Temporal population trends can provide important evidence for such assessments, but imperfect sampling (observation errors) and short-term stochastic variation in population levels caused by environmental variability...
Article
Full-text available
Protecting biodiversity against the impacts of climate change requires effective conservation strategies that safeguard species at risk of extinction¹. Microrefugia allowed populations to survive adverse climatic conditions in the past2,3, but their potential to reduce extinction risk from anthropogenic warming is poorly understood3–5, hindering ou...
Article
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Mountains are complex ecosystems supporting a great variety of taxa. Here, we explored the diversity patterns of arthropods in two mountains, pinpointing the spatial scale that accounts most for overall diversity variation, using an additive partitioning framework. Butterflies and Orthoptera were sampled in Rodopi (2012) and Grammos (2013) mountain...
Article
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In plants, apomixis results in the production of clonal offspring via seed and can provide reproductive assurance for isolated individuals. However, many apomicts require pollination to develop functional endosperm for successful seed set (pseudogamy) and therefore risk pollination-limitation, particularly in self-incompatible species that require...
Article
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Landscape-scale approaches to conservation stem largely from the classic ideas of reserve design: encouraging bigger and more sites, enhancing connectivity among sites, and improving habitat quality. Trade-offs are imposed between these four strategies by the limited resources and opportunities available for conservation programmes, including the e...
Article
AimThere is little consensus about the relative roles of biotic versus abiotic factors in setting limits to species distributions or in generating geographical patterns of species richness. However, despite the probable importance of host availability in governing the distribution and diversity of consumers, few studies have simultaneously tested t...
Article
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Conservationists have historically advocated measures that limit human disturbance. Nevertheless, natural disturbances are important components of many ecosystems and their associated species are often adapted to such regimes. In consequence, conservation managers frequently simulate natural disturbance, particularly in temperate forest systems. Th...
Article
The cultivation of grapevines for winemaking, known as viticulture, is widely cited as a climate-sensitive agricultural system that has been used as an indicator of both historic and contemporary climate change. Numerous studies have questioned the viability of major viticulture regions under future climate projections. We review the methods used t...
Article
The existence of fine-grain climate heterogeneity has prompted suggestions that species may be able to survive future climate change in pockets of suitable microclimate, termed 'microrefugia'. However, evidence for microrefugia is hindered by lack of understanding of how rates of warming vary across a landscape. Here we present a model that is appl...
Article
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AbstractBisphenol A (BPA) is a commercially important high production chemical widely used in epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics, and is ubiquitous in the environment. Previous studies demonstrated that BPA activates estrogenic signaling pathways associated with adverse effects on reproduction in vertebrates and that exposure can induce epigen...
Article
Hypoxia is a global and increasingly important stressor in aquatic ecosystems, with major impacts on biodiversity worldwide. Hypoxic waters are often contaminated with a wide range of chemicals but little is known about the interactions between these stressors. We investigated the effects of hypoxia on the responses of zebrafish (Danio rerio) embry...
Article
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The cultivation of grapevines in the UK and many other cool climate regions is expected to benefit from the higher growing season temperatures predicted under future climate scenarios. Yet the effects of climate change on the risk of adverse weather conditions or events at key stages of crop development are not always captured by aggregated measure...
Article
AimDespite predictions of high extinction risk resulting from climate change, range expansions have been documented more frequently than range retractions, prompting suggestions that species can endure climatic changes by persisting in cool or damp microclimates. We test whether such ‘microrefugia’ exist.LocationThe United Kingdom.Methods We examin...
Article
1. Insects undergo phenological change at different rates, showing no consistent trend between habitats, time periods, species or groups. Understanding how and why this variability occurs is crucial. 2. Phenological patterns of butterflies and Orthoptera were analysed using a novel approach of standardised major axis (SMA) analysis. It was investi...
Article
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We welcome the response of Tooley (2015) to our article describing a new meta-database of Holocene sediment cores for England. In our article we describe the online publication of this meta-database, arising from systematic meta-search. We define its scope and the meta-data it contains, before providing the data themselves (in the Electronic Supple...
Article
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A cornerstone of conservation is the designation and management of protected areas (PAs): locations often under conservation management containing species of conservation concern, where some development and other detrimental influences are prevented or mitigated. However, the value of PAs for conserving biodiversity in the long term has been questi...
Article
Species are often observed to occur in restricted patches of particularly warm microclimate at their high latitude/altitude geographic range margin. In these areas, global warming is expected to cause small-scale expansion of the occupied area, but most previous studies of range expansion have used very coarse scale data. Using high resolution micr...
Article
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Extracting sediment cores for palaeoecological and archaeological investigations has occurred extensively across England since the early 20th century. Surprisingly, there has been comparatively little collation of these valuable publications and potential sources of data; for example, a search on the European Pollen Database (1st Aug 2014 edition)...
Article
AimEfforts to adapt conservation to climate change are hampered by a scarcity of studies of community-level ecological responses. We examined temporal (40years) and spatial (1700m elevational gradient) variation in butterfly communities, aiming to test whether the composition of communities in terms of species' thermal envelopes tracked regional wa...
Article
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Microclimate has been known to drive variation in the distribution and abundance of insects for some time. Until recently however, quantification of microclimatic effects has been limited by computing constraints and the availability of fine-scale biological data. Here, we tested fine-scale patterns of persistence/extinction in butterflies and moth...
Article
Potter et al., (2013) highlight the challenges and provide recommendations for progress in representing microclimate in Species Distribution Models (SDMs), which are widely used to predict distributions by establishing relationships between climatic variables and species presence. They show that the grid lengths of published SDMs are typically four...
Article
Seasonal elevational migrations have important implications for life-history evolution and ecological responses to environmental change. However, for most species, particularly invertebrates, evidence is still scarce for the existence of such migrations, as well as for the potential causes. We tested the extent to which seasonal abundance patterns...
Article
Full-text available
The Javan slow loris Nycticebus javanicus is threatened by habitat decline and is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Information on its distribution and habitat preferences is still lacking, and so far the distribution of the Javan slow loris has only been quantified via ecological niche modelling based on museum specimens an...
Article
Climate change is expected to drive patterns of extinction and colonisation that are correlated with geographic gradients in the climate, such as latitude and elevation. However, local population dynamics also depend on the fine-scale effects of vegetation and topography on resource availability and microclimate. Understanding how this fine-scale v...
Article
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The habitat associations of individuals underpin the dynamics of species distributions. Broad-scale gradients in climate can alter habitat associations across species’ geographic ranges, but topographic heterogeneity creates local microclimates which could generate variation in habitat use at finer spatial scales. We examined the selection of micro...
Article
There is a need to adapt biodiversity conservation to climate change, but few empirical studies are available to guide decision-making. Existing networks of protected areas (PAs) have been preferentially colonized during species’ range expansions, but this could be due to their original habitat quality and/or to ongoing management activity. Here, w...
Article
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The European protected-area network will cease to be efficient for biodiversity conservation, particularly in the Mediterranean region, if species are driven out of protected areas by climate warming. Yet, no empirical evidence of how climate change influences ecological communities in Mediterranean nature reserves really exists. Here, we examine l...
Article
The use of species distribution models to understand and predict species' distributions necessitates tests of fit to empirical data. Numerous performance metrics have been proposed, many of which require continuous occurrence probabilities to be converted to binary ‘present or absent’ predictions using threshold transformations. It is widely accept...
Article
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Ecological responses to climate change may depend on complex patterns of variability in weather and local microclimate that overlay global increases in mean temperature. Here, we show that high-resolution temporal and spatial variability in temperature drives the dynamics of range expansion for an exemplar species, the butterfly Hesperia comma. Usi...
Article
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Models relating species distribution records to environmental variables are increasingly applied to biodiversity conservation. Such techniques could be valuable to predict the distribution, abundance or habitat requirements of species that are rare or otherwise difficult to survey. However, despite widely-documented positive intraspecific relations...
Article
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The benefits of protected areas (PAs) for biodiversity have been questioned in the context of climate change because PAs are static, whereas the distributions of species are dynamic. Current PAs may, however, continue to be important if they provide suitable locations for species to colonize at their leading-edge range boundaries, thereby enabling...
Article
Soil moisture and surface water conditions are key determinants of plant community composition and ecosystem function, and predicting such conditions is an important step in understanding the ecological consequences of environmental change. Typically, hydrological models that use real landscape features do not simulate water conditions at the fine...
Article
1. There is a pressing need to understand how to facilitate species' range shifts under climate change. However, few empirical studies are available to inform decision-making, particularly at fine spatial and temporal resolutions. 2. We present a case study of a thermally constrained habitat specialist, the silver-spotted skipper butterfly Hesperia...
Article
1. Impacts of global change on the distribution, abundance, and phenology of species have been widely documented. In particular, recent climate change has led to widespread changes in animal and plant seasonality, leading to debate about its potential to cause phenological mismatches among interacting taxa.2. In mountainous regions, populations of...
Article
Full-text available
Predicted effects of climate change include high extinction risk for many species, but confidence in these predictions is undermined by a perceived lack of empirical support. Many studies have now documented ecological responses to recent climate change, providing the opportunity to test whether the magnitude and nature of recent responses match pr...
Article
The timing of seasonal events such as flowering and migration is changing as the climate warms, reshuffling the order in which such events take place each year. Now research sheds light on the causes of changes in the timing of butterfly emergence.
Article
Aim  To map changes in the abundance of African wetland birds using remotely derived habitat data. We show that abundance–occupancy relationships can be coupled with habitat association models to map changes in abundance. As conservation resources are more easily allocated when spatial and temporal patterns of abundance are known, our method provid...
Article
Aim  Global patterns of species richness are often considered to depend primarily on climate. We aimed to determine how topography and land cover affect species richness and composition at finer scales.Location  Sierra de Guadarrama (central Iberian Peninsula).Methods  We sampled the butterfly fauna of 180 locations (89 in 2004, 91 in 2005) at 600–...
Article
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Climate change is now estimated by some biologists to be the main threat to biodiversity, but doubts persist regarding which species are most at risk, and how best to adapt conservation management. Insects are expected to be highly responsive to climate change, because they have short life cycles which are strongly influenced by temperature. Insect...
Article
Temperature increases because of climate change are expected to cause expansions at the high latitude margins of species distributions, but, in practice, fragmented landscapes act as barriers to colonization for most species. Understanding how species distributions will shift in response to climate change therefore requires techniques that incorpor...
Article
Aim Models relating species distributions to climate or habitat are widely used to predict the effects of global change on biodiversity. Most such approaches assume that climate governs coarse-scale species ranges, whereas habitat limits fine-scale distributions. We tested the influence of topoclimate and land cover on butterfly distributions and a...
Article
Abstract 1. The present study used the mountain specialist butterfly Parnassius apollo as a model system to investigate how climate change may alter habitat requirements for species at their warm range margins. 2. Larval habitat use was recorded in six P. apollo populations over a 700 m elevation gradient in the Sierra de Guadarrama (central Spain)...
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There is an increasing need for conservation programmes to make quantitative predictions of biodiversity responses to changed environments. Such predictions will be particularly important to promote species recovery in fragmented landscapes, and to understand and facilitate distribution responses to climate change. Here, we model expansion rates of...
Article
Our work suggests that temperature is the most likely factor determining the low elevation limit to A. crataegi's distribution, whereas interacting species are responsible for its upper elevation margin. This result contrasts with the prevailing theory that species interactions determine warm limits to species distributions, while direct climatic l...