Abstract Aim We examined the effects of drought in the summer of 1995 and the subsequent year on contrasting species of plants, moths, butterflies and ground beetles. We tested whether population increases were associated with: (a) species of warm environments (b) species of dry environments (c) species with rapid reproduction (d) species with high rates of dispersal.
Location The study was conducted at Environmental Change Network (ECN) sites throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Methods Climate monitoring, recording of plant species in permanent plots, transect walking for butterflies, light trapping for moths and pitfall trapping for carabid beetles were used.
Results There was an overall increase in the number of species recorded in permanent vegetation plots between 1994 and 1996, principally among the annual and biennial vascular plants, probably as a result of gap colonization in grasslands. Most butterfly and moth species increased between 1994 and 1995. Among the butterflies, a southern distribution and high mobility were associated with species tending to increase throughout the period 1994–96, whereas declining species tended to have a northern distribution. A similar number of carabid beetle species increased as decreased in the period 1994–96; decreasing species tended to be associated with lower temperatures and wetter soils.