Data from: Increasing frequency of low summer precipitation synchronizes dynamics and compromises metapopulation stability in the Glanville fritillary butterfly

  • Ilkka Hanski (Creator)
  • Tommi Mononen (Creator)
  • Ayco J.M. Tack (Contributor)



Climate change is known to shift species' geographical ranges, phenologies and abundances, but less is known about other population dynamic consequences. Here, we analyse spatio-temporal dynamics of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) in a network of 4000 dry meadows during 21 years. The results demonstrate two strong, related patterns: the amplitude of year-to-year fluctuations in the size of the metapopulation as a whole has increased, though there is no long-term trend in average abundance; and there is a highly significant increase in the level of spatial synchrony in population dynamics. The increased synchrony cannot be explained by increasing within-year spatial correlation in precipitation, the key environmental driver of population change, or in per capita growth rate. On the other hand, the frequency of drought during a critical life-history stage (early larval instars) has increased over the years, which is sufficient to explain the increasing amplitude and the expanding spatial synchrony in metapopulation dynamics. Increased spatial synchrony has the general effect of reducing long-term metapopulation viability even if there is no change in average metapopulation size. This study demonstrates how temporal changes in weather conditions can lead to striking changes in spatio-temporal population dynamics.
Date made available7 May 2015
PublisherDryad Digital Repository

Dataset Licences

  • CC0-1.0

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