Publicaties

No evidence of the effect of extreme weather events on annual occurrence of four groups of ectothermic species

Malinowska, A.H.; Strien, A.J. van; Verboom, J.; Wallis de Vries, M.F.; Opdam, P.

Samenvatting

Weather extremes may have strong effects on biodiversity, as known from theoretical and modelling studies. Predicted negative effects of increased weather variation are found only for a few species, mostly plants and birds in empirical studies. Therefore, we investigated correlations between weather variability and patterns in occupancy, local colonisations and local extinctions (metapopulation metrics) across four groups of ectotherms: Odonata, Orthoptera, Lepidoptera, and Reptilia. We analysed data of 134 species on a 1×1 km-grid base, collected in the last 20 years from the Netherlands, combining standardised data and opportunistic data. We applied dynamic site-occupancy models and used the results as input for analyses of (i) trends in distribution patterns, (ii) the effect of temperature on colonisation and persistence probability, and (iii) the effect of years with extreme weather on all the three metapopulation metrics. All groups, except butterflies, showed more positive than negative trends in metapopulation metrics. We did not find evidence that the probability of colonisation or persistence increases with temperature nor that extreme weather events are reflected in higher extinction risks. We could not prove that weather extremes have visible and consistent negative effects on ectothermic species in temperate northern hemisphere. These findings do not confirm the general prediction that increased weather variability imperils biodiversity. We conclude that weather extremes might not be ecologically relevant for the majority of species. Populations might be buffered against weather variation (e.g. by habitat heterogeneity), or other factors might be masking the effects (e.g. availability and quality of habitat). Consequently, we postulate that weather extremes have less, or different, impact in real world metapopulations than theory and models suggest.