An investigation into the vulnerability of UK butterflies to extreme climatic events associated with increasing climate change

Mcdermott Long, Osgur (2017) An investigation into the vulnerability of UK butterflies to extreme climatic events associated with increasing climate change. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Climate change while associated with change a in the mean climate also presents itself as a change in the variance of climate, resulting in an increase in the number of extreme climatic events (ECEs). Increased numbers of hot days, droughts and extreme precipitation events are all predicted under future climate scenarios. To date, there is very little understanding as to the potential effects that this may have on biodiversity. In order to model the future impacts of ECEs on biodiversity and to inform conservationists about the most appropriate mitigation strategies, we need to understand how ECEs have impacted species in the past, which species are sensitive and why? Finally, can factors such as habitat and topography play a role in reducing the impact of ECEs? This thesis aims to advance the knowledge relating to the above questions by examining their impact on UK butterflies, a bioindicator group.
This study developed a novel approach to identifying statistically identified, biologically relevant ECEs (heat, cold, precipitation and drought). Research into the impact of ECEs on yearly population change, localised declines and widespread decline events, identified that UK butterflies are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat during the overwintering phase, while tUK butterflies find extreme heat beneficial during their adult phase and finally are negatively impacted upon by precipitation extremes during their adult life stage. Chapter 4 of this thesis found that increasing slope heterogeneity in association with increased habitat diversity buffered butterflies against widespread declines associated with ECEs. Finally, chapter 5 of this thesis found that butterfly families respond differently when accounting for all extremes across all life stages, but that life history traits such as dispersal and number of larval host plants can be used to predict a species sensitivity to various ECEs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Bruce Beckett
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 08:23
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2018 08:23


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