Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Butterflies and climate

Global change seriously threatens biodiversity at all ecological levels ranging from single species, through communities and species assemblages to whole ecosystems including the provision of ecosystem services for human well-being. Detailed information on species' ecological niche characteristics is indispensable for a better understanding of the relationship between the occurrence and performance of wild species and their environment and, moreover, for an improved assessment of the impacts of global change.

When it comes to butterflies in Europe there is a great body of knowledge on species characteristics such as habitat requirements already available in the ecological literature, but information about their climatic requirements is still lacking.  Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research -- UFZ have closed this gap and present CLIMBER: Climatic niche characteristics of the butterflies in Europe -a dataset on the climatic niche characteristics of 397 European butterflies representing 91% of the European species.

The information provided in this dataset is of great relevance for basic and applied ecology and provides data ready to use for a broad range of applications such as assessments of past niche evolution or analyses of trait interdependencies to the very applied aspects of measuring, monitoring and projecting historical, ongoing and potential future responses to climate change using butterflies as an indicator. 

Good knowledge of the ecological characteristics relevant for the reaction of species and communities to particular drivers of global change is badly needed and can then be utilized for more informed conservation planning and action.

By providing public access to this dataset, we hope to contribute to improvements of the scientific understanding of how climate change affects species and communities and to improve monitoring and conservation actions for climate change mitigation.

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