Bird and butterfly communities in Europe have shifted rapidly northward in the past two decades, but compared to the change in average temperatures they are lagging behind. To be in step with climate change, butterfly communities should have spread a further 135 km and bird communities a further 210 km. These are the findings of a Dutch study based on data collected from 9,490 bird and 2,130 butterfly communities distributed across Europe.
The shorter life cycles of butterflies might be one explanation why they tend to be faster than birds in adapting to climate change. Fragmentation of the landscape is given as a partial explanation why neither of the two groups manage to keep up with the pace of climate change.
Sources: Science Daily, 18 January and Nature Climate Change, 10 January 2012.