CLIMBER: Climatic niche characteristics of the butterflies in Europe
butterflies, Climate Change, global change, global warming, Lepidoptera, Modelling, trend
Detailed information on species’ ecological niche characteristics that can be related to declines and extinc- tions is indispensable for a better understanding of the relationship between the occurrence and perfor- mance of wild species and their environment and, moreover, for an improved assessment of the impacts of global change. Knowledge on species characteristics such as habitat requirements is already available in the ecological literature for butterflies, but information about their climatic requirements is still lacking. Here we present a unique dataset on the climatic niche characteristics of 397 European butterflies representing 91% of the European species (see Appendix). These characteristics were obtained by combining detailed information on butterfly distributions in Europe (which also led to the ‘Distribution Atlas of Butterflies in Europe’) and the corresponding climatic conditions. The presented dataset comprises information for the position and breadth of the following climatic niche characteristics: mean annual temperature, range in annual temperature, growing degree days, annual precipitation sum, range in annual precipitation and soil water content. The climatic niche position is indicated by the median and mean value for each climate variable across a species’ range, accompanied by the 95% confidence interval for the mean and the number of grid cells used for calculations. Climatic niche breadth is indicated by the standard deviation and the minimum and maximum values for each climatic variable across a species’ range. Database compilation was based on high quality standards and the data are ready to use for a broad range of applications. It is already evident that the information provided in this dataset is of great relevance for basic and ap- plied ecology. Based on the species temperature index (STI, i.e. the mean temperature value per species), the community temperature index (CTI, i.e. the average STI value across the species in a community) was recently adopted as an indicator of climate change impact on biodiversity by the pan-European framework supporting the Convention on Biological Diversity (Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators 2010) and has already been used in several scientific publications. The application potential of this database ranges from theoretical aspects such as assessments of past niche evolution or analyses of trait interde- pendencies to the very applied aspects of measuring, monitoring and projecting historical, ongoing and potential future responses to climate change using butterflies as an indicator.