Wilson, R. J., Z. G. Davies, and C. D. Thomas. Linking habitat use to range expansion rates in fragmented landscapes: a metapopulation approach. Ecography

Ecography (Impact Factor: 4.77). 01/2010; 33(1):73 - 82. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2009.06038.x


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 incorporate the combined effects of climate and landscape-scale habitat availability on colonization rates. We use a metapopulation model (Incidence Function Model, IFM) to test effects of fine-scale habitat use on patterns and rates of range expansion by the butterfly Hesperia comma. At its northern range margin in Britain, this species has increased its breadth of microhabitat use because of climate warming, leading to increased colonization rates. We validated the IFM by reconstructing expansions in five habitat networks between 1982 and 2000, before using it to predict metapopulation dynamics over 100 yr, for three scenarios based on observed changes to habitat use. We define the scenarios as “cold-world” (only hot, south-facing 150–250° hillsides are deemed warm enough), “warm-world” in which 100–300° hillsides can be populated, and “hot-world”, where the background climate is warm enough to enable use of all aspects (as increasingly observed). In the simulations, increased habitat availability in the hot-world scenario led to faster range expansion rates, and to long-term differences in distribution size and pattern. Thus, fine-scale changes in the distribution of suitable microclimates led to landscape-scale changes in population size and colonization rate, resulting in coarse-scale changes to the species distribution. Despite use of a wider range of habitats associated with climate change, H. comma is still expected to occupy a small fraction of available habitat in 100 yr. The research shows that metapopulation models represent a potential framework to identify barriers to range expansion, and to predict the effects of environmental change or conservation interventions on species distributions and persistence.

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    • "Araújo, Thuiller, & Pearson 2006; Settele et al. 2008). Whether species will be able to migrate into suitable climate zones depends on both species characteristics and landscape patterns (Wilson, Davies, & Thomas 2010). Species with low dispersal capacity and reproductive potential will require more time to expand their range (Clobert, Ims, & Rousset 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Establishing ecological networks across national boundaries is essential for species to adapt to shifts in future suitable climate zones. This paper presents a method to assess whether the existing ecological network in the Dutch-German border region is “climate proof”. Using distribution data and climate envelope models for 846 species in Europe (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies) we identified 216 species with climate-induced range shifts in the border region. A range expansion is predicted for 99 species and the ranges of 117 species are predicted to contract. The spatial cohesion of the ecological network was analysed for selected species that vary in habitat requirements and colonisation ability (forest species: Brenthis daphne, Dendrocopos medius; wetland species: Maculinea teleius, Lutra lutra). The assessment shows that optimising transboundary networks and developing corridors seems a suitable adaptation strategy for the forest species and for Lutra lutra. For the immobile butterfly Maculinea teleius, the present habitat network is too weak and translocation into future suitable climate space seems to be a more appropriate adaptation measure. Our results underline that due to climate change landscape planning and management should not only focus on areas where target species occur today. The presented method can identify strongholds and bottlenecks in transboundary ecological networks and incorporate demands of climate adaptation into spatial planning which forms the basis for taking measures at a more detailed level.
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    • "Although the complexities of the ecological interactions in some of these endangered butterflies are beginning to be understood (Thomas et al. 2009), appreciating how different forms of stochasticity and noise affect species of butterfly, which are both of high conservation status and indicator species for habitat quality (Dennis 2010), has not, to our knowledge, been undertaken. In contrast, studies on the spatial dynamics of some butterflies, in particular the Glanville fritillary (see Hanski 1998, 1999), the silver-spotted skipper (see Davies et al. 2005, Wilson et al. 2010), and the silverstudded blue (see Thomas 1996, Lewis et al. 1997) have been used to advance our understanding of the role of metapopulation processes in the dynamics and conservation of this group of insects. Given that both positive (Allee effects) and negative density dependence has a predominant effect on metapopulation systems, we explore how rescue effects interact with density-dependent processes (leading to both regulation and Allee effects) to influence the likelihood of critical transitions to alternative dynamical regimes in A. adippe. "
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    ABSTRACT: Conservation of endangered species necessitates a full appreciation of the ecological processes affecting the regulation, limitation, and persistence of populations. These processes are influenced by birth, death, and dispersal events, and characterizing them requires careful accounting of both the deterministic and stochastic processes operating at both local and regional population levels. We combined ecological theory and observations on Allee effects by linking mathematical analysis and the spatial and temporal population dynamics patterns of a highly endangered butterfly, the high brown fritillary, Argynnis adippe. Our theoretical analysis showed that the role of density-dependent feedbacks in the presence of local immigration can influence the strength of Allee effects. Linking this theory to the analysis of the population data revealed strong evidence for both negative density dependence and Allee effects at the landscape or regional scale. These regional dynamics are predicted to be highly influenced by immigration. Using a Bayesian state-space approach, we characterized the local-scale births, deaths, and dispersal effects together with measurement and process uncertainty in the metapopulation. Some form of an Allee effect influenced almost three-quarters of these local populations. Our joint analysis of the deterministic and stochastic dynamics suggests that a conservation priority for this species would be to increase resource availability in currently occupied and, more importantly, in unoccupied sites.
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    • "Understanding the positive heterogeneity effect, however, requires a species-by-species approach. The STEPPIC species associated with high configurational heterogeneity included relatively good dispersers occurring in low population densities, such as Hesperia comma (Linnaeus, 1758), known to form dynamic metapopulations (Wilson et al. 2010), and specialists of edge structures, such as the scrub dweller Satyrium ilicis (Esper, 1779) (cf. Benes et al. 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Landscape homogenisation represents one of the gravest threats to the biodiversity of intensively farmed landscapes. In such landscapes, many species persist within remnants of (semi)natural habitats, such as in the steppe grasslands of Southern Moravia, SE Czech Republic. We investigated how the butterfly fauna of insular grassland reserves is affected by the heterogeneity of the surrounding farmland. We followed two lines of evidence, one based on species richness, the other on species community composition, considering two aspects of landscape heterogeneity, composition (amount of land cover types) and configuration (geometry of land cover patches). After statistically correcting for individual reserves characteristics, and within-reserves biotope composition, we found that reserves amidst heterogeneous landscapes contained more species. With increasing buffers around the reserves, the strength of the effects decreased for landscape composition, and increased for landscape configuration. Similar patterns applied for the butterfly assemblage composition, but in a rather subtle manner, not reflecting a specialist versus generalist dichotomy. However, more red-listed species inclined towards reserves amidst heterogeneous matrices. The species most tightly associated with heterogeneous landscapes were those whose populations likely span across multiple patches of relatively rare biotopes, whereas those indifferent to configuration were either those persisting at isolated sites, or those utilising common biotope types outside the reserves. The importance of landscape configuration suggests that relatively cheap restoration measures aimed at compartmentalisation the currently huge farmland units may substantially contribute to preserving biodiversity in intensively farmed regions.
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