A niche-based approach for evaluating the mechanisms of community stability in butterfly communities across three countries
Author(s): Evans, L.C., Melero, Y., Schmucki, S., Boersch-Supan, P.H., Brotons, L., Fontaine, C., Jiguet, F., Kuussaari, M., Massimino, D., Robinson, R.A., Roy, D.B., Schweiger, O., Settele, J., Stefanescu, C., van Turnhout, C.A.M. & Oliver, T.H.
Published: March 2023
Journal: Global Change Biology
Digital Identifier No. (DOI): 10.1111/gcb.16684
Using data collected by volunteers participating in three national butterfly monitoring schemes - operating in Spain, the UK and Finland - this paper explores the mechanisms shaping community stability in this familiar group of insects. The researchers use a two-stage approach, first seeking to understand how the underlying species characteristics of the European butterfly assemblage influence population abundance and stability, and then going on to look at how these factors, and their variability, subsequently affect community stability.
The results of the study suggest that measures of the niche characteristics of these butterfly communities can help us to understand differences in both species diversity and population stability at study sites. While the main drivers of community stability were found to vary between the three countries, synchrony was the most consistent factor explaining these differences.
The study highlights that an understanding of the ecological niches of component species can prove informative when considering communities and their stability. In addition to contributing to our theoretical understanding of communities, the work adds to our understanding of the wider causes and consequences of biodiversity loss, and suggests where interventions could be aimed at halting it.
NotesWe thank the volunteers collecting butterfly data and the funders of the schemes for the obtaining the data required for this study. The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is organized and funded by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, British Trust for Ornithology, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The Catalan BMS is funded by the Catalan Government, the Barcelona Provincial Council and other local partners. The Catalan BMS also incorporates the Andorra BMS that is run by CENMA and funded by Govern d'Andorra. The Finnish BMS is organized and funded by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and the Finnish Ministry of Environment.
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