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Species richness changes lag behind climate.

Menendez, R.; Gonzalez-Megias, A.; Hill, J.K.; Braschler, B.; Willis, S.G.; Collingham, Y.C.; Fox, R.; Roy, D.B.; Thomas, C.D.


R. Menendez

A. Gonzalez-Megias

J.K. Hill

B. Braschler

Y.C. Collingham

R. Fox

D.B. Roy

C.D. Thomas


Species-energy theory indicates that recent climate warming should have driven increases in species richness in cool and species-poor parts of the Northern Hemisphere. We confirm that the average species richness of British butterflies has increased since 1970-82, but much more slowly than predicted from changes of climate: on average, only one-third of the predicted increase has taken place. The resultant species assemblages are increasingly dominated by generalist species that were able to respond quickly. The time lag is confirmed by the successful introduction of many species to climatically suitable areas beyond their ranges. Our results imply that it may be decades or centuries before the species richness and composition of biological communities adjusts to the current climate.


Menendez, R., Gonzalez-Megias, A., Hill, J., Braschler, B., Willis, S., Collingham, Y., …Thomas, C. (2006). Species richness changes lag behind climate. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273, 1465-1470.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2006-04
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2954
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 273
Pages 1465-1470
Publisher URL,5,20;journal,21,320;linkingpublicationresults,1:102024,1