Data from: Evolution on the move: specialization on widespread resources associated with rapid range expansion in response to climate change

  • Jon R. Bridle (Contributor)
  • James Buckley (Contributor)
  • Edward J. Bodsworth (Contributor)
  • Chris D. Thomas (Contributor)



Generalist species and phenotypes are expected to perform best under rapid environmental change. In contrast to this view that generalists will inherit the Earth, we find that increased specialisation on a single host plant is associated with the recent climate-driven range expansion of the UK Brown Argus butterfly. Field assays of female host plant preference across the UK reveal a diversity of adaptations to host plants in long-established parts of the range, whereas butterflies in recently-colonized areas are more specialised, consistently preferring to lay eggs on one host plant species that is geographically widespread throughout the region of expansion, despite being locally rare. By common-garden rearing of females’ offspring we also show an increase in dispersal propensity associated with the colonization of new sites. Range expansion is therefore associated with an increase in the spatial scale of adaptation as dispersive specialists selectively spread into new regions. Major restructuring of patterns of local adaptation is likely to occur across many taxa with climate change, as lineages suited to regional colonization rather than local success emerge and expand.,Counts of eggs laid on experimental host plants placed at field sitesBA_hostpref_host.tetrads.txtSurvival data for brown argus butterfly laboratory rearing studySurvival.txtFlight morphology data for female brown argus butterflies reared in laboratory conditionsIndividual data_females.morphology.txtFlight morphology data for male brown argus butterflies reared in laboratoryIndividual data_males.morphology.txt,
Date made available13 Nov 2014

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