Assisted colonization in a changing climate: a test-study using two U.K. butterflies

Willis, Stephen G.; Hill, Jane K.; Thomas, Chris D.; Roy, David B. ORCID:; Fox, Richard; Blakeley, David S.; Huntley, Brian. 2009 Assisted colonization in a changing climate: a test-study using two U.K. butterflies. Conservation Letters, 2 (1). 45-52.

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Recent climatic change in temperate regions has been rapid and there is mounting speculation that species are failing to keep track of suitable climate, perhaps necessitating assisted colonization for some species. An inability to spread into new areas may result in large reductions in species’ ranges in the future, and threaten the survival of some species. Here we use “speciesclimate” models to predict suitable sites for introductions beyond current range margins, using two U.K. butterfly species. We introduced Melanargia galathea (marbled white) and Thymelicus sylvestris (small skipper) into two sites in northern England, ∼65 and ∼35 km beyond their then-range margins, respectively, to sites that were predicted to be climatically suitable and that appeared to contain suitable habitat for the species. Both introduced populations grew and expanded their range over 6 years (2001–2006; still thriving in 2008), suggesting the existence of a colonization lag and providing evidence that well-planned assisted colonization can be successful. We suggest that assisted colonization may be a feasible and cost-effective means of enabling certain species to track climatic change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD01 Conservation and Restoration of Biodiversity > BD01.1 Distributions and abundance of taxa
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1755-263X
Additional Keywords: Climate change, distributions, introductions, range margin, range shift, assisted colonization
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 03 Jun 2009 09:07 +0 (UTC)

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