Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 297–303 | Cite as

Elevation and habitats: the potential of sites at different altitudes to provide refuges for phytophagous insects during climatic fluctuations

  • Peter B. Hardy
  • Phillip M. Kinder
  • Tim H. Sparks
  • Roger L. H. DennisEmail author
Short Communication


Uplands are expected to provide refuges for species subject to lowland habitat loss and projected climate changes. Here, we argue that upland populations also provide refuges when lowland sites are subject to climatic fluctuations and extreme events and that species with populations dispersed over adjoining uplands and lowlands spread their risk of extinction. A proviso is that development is sufficiently lagged with altitude but that development rates are compatible. Emergence patterns and development of the butterfly Anthocharis cardamines and its larval host plant Cardamine pratensis show these characteristics, and coupled with the butterfly’s capacity to migrate between isolated populations present a case where upland and lowland populations can act as sources when one or the other area is adversely affected by extreme events.


Climate change Altitude Extreme events Habitat Refuges Weather 



Our thanks to Barry Shaw for access to the Cheshire butterfly atlas data, to all recorders in Cheshire and Manchester for data from these areas and to two referees for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter B. Hardy
    • 1
  • Phillip M. Kinder
    • 2
  • Tim H. Sparks
    • 3
  • Roger L. H. Dennis
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.SaleUK
  2. 2.RomileyUK
  3. 3.Institute of ZoologyPoznań University of Life SciencesPoznańUK
  4. 4.Institute for Environment, Sustainability and RegenerationStaffordshire UniversityStoke on TrentUK
  5. 5.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyCrowmarsh Gifford, WallingfordUK

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