Climate-induced phenology shifts linked to range expansions in species with multiple reproductive cycles per year

Callum J. Macgregor*, Chris D. Thomas, David B. Roy, Mark A. Beaumont, James R. Bell, Tom Brereton, Jon R. Bridle, Calvin Dytham, Richard Fox, Karl Gotthard, Ary A. Hoffmann, Geoff Martin, Ian Middlebrook, Sӧren Nylin, Philip J. Platts, Rita Rasteiro, Ilik J. Saccheri, Romain Villoutreix, Christopher W. Wheat, Jane K. Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Advances in phenology (the annual timing of species’ life-cycles) in response to climate change are generally viewed as bioindicators of climate change, but have not been considered as predictors of range expansions. Here, we show that phenology advances combine with the number of reproductive cycles per year (voltinism) to shape abundance and distribution trends in 130 species of British Lepidoptera, in response to ~0.5 °C spring-temperature warming between 1995 and 2014. Early adult emergence in warm years resulted in increased within- and between-year population growth for species with multiple reproductive cycles per year (n = 39 multivoltine species). By contrast, early emergence had neutral or negative consequences for species with a single annual reproductive cycle (n = 91 univoltine species), depending on habitat specialisation. We conclude that phenology advances facilitate polewards range expansions in species exhibiting plasticity for both phenology and voltinism, but may inhibit expansion by less flexible species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4455 (2019)
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019


  • conservation biology
  • phenology
  • population dynamics

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