Journal article

Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming

Michael R Kearney, Natalie J Briscoe, David J Karoly, Warren P Porter, Melanie Norgate, Paul Sunnucks

BIOLOGY LETTERS | ROYAL SOC | Published : 2010


There is strong correlative evidence that human-induced climate warming is contributing to changes in the timing of natural events. Firm attribution, however, requires cause-and-effect links between observed climate change and altered phenology, together with statistical confidence that observed regional climate change is anthropogenic. We provide evidence for phenological shifts in the butterfly Heteronympha merope in response to regional warming in the southeast Australian city of Melbourne. The mean emergence date for H. merope has shifted -1.5 days per decade over a 65-year period with a concurrent increase in local air temperatures of approximately 0.16°C per decade. We used a physiolog..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Chris Thomas, Lesley Hughes, K. McClellan, Cheryl O'Dwyer, Nigel Stork, Anna Lister and Neil Murray for discussion/ comments on the manuscript. We especially thank Mark Hendrickx whose critique of a previous version of the article significantly improved the final version. This study was supported by the Australian Research Council grants DP0772837 and FF0668679, Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment, and by an Australian Department of Climate Change grant to N. J. B.