Climate signals are reflected in an 89 year series of British Lepidoptera records

Dennis, Roger L. H.; Sparks, Tim H.. 2007 Climate signals are reflected in an 89 year series of British Lepidoptera records. European Journal of Entomology, 104. 763-767.

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Historical data sources on abundance of organisms are valuable for determining responses of those organisms to climate change and coincidence of changes amongst different organisms. We investigate data on the general abundance of Lepidoptera over an 89 year period 1864-1952. We related abundance to monthly mean temperature and precipitation and the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, and to numbers of migrants from an independent source. Abundances of Lepidoptera were significantly positively correlated with current year temperatures for May to September and November and significantly negatively correlated with temperatures in January. Numbers were also negatively correlated with rainfall for April and May and annual total of the current year and with August in the previous year. Abundance of Lepidoptera decreased significantly with an increasing winter NAO index. Increased overall abundance in Lepidoptera coincided significantly with increased numbers of migrants. The climate associations were very similar to those previously reported for butterfly data collected by the British Butterfly Monitoring Scheme; although warm and drier summers were generally beneficial to Lepidoptera populations, wet summers and winters and mild winters were not. We discuss the implications for Lepidoptera biology and populations in regions of Britain in the face of projected climate changes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > CC01A Detection and Attribution of Change in UK and European Ecosystems > CC01.3 UK Phenology Network
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1210-5759
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: pdf freely available at
Additional Keywords: Lepidoptera, historical records, population changes, climate change, migration, butterflies
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 07 Nov 2007 16:27 +0 (UTC)

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