Report

Temperature-Dependent Alterations in Host Use Drive Rapid Range Expansion in a Butterfly

Science  25 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6084, pp. 1028-1030
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216980

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Abstract

Responses of species to climate change are extremely variable, perhaps because of climate-related changes to interactions among species. We show that temperature-related changes in the dependence of the butterfly Aricia agestis on different larval host plants have facilitated rapid range expansion. Historically, the butterfly was largely restricted to a single plant species, Helianthemum nummularium, but recent warmer conditions have enabled the butterfly to increasingly use the more widespread plant species Geranium molle. This has resulted in a substantial increase in available habitat and rapid range expansion by the butterfly (79 kilometers northward in Britain in 20 years). Interactions among species are often seen as constraints on species’ responses to climate change, but we show that temperature-dependent changes to interspecific interactions can also facilitate change.

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