Uncertainty remains regarding the role of anthropogenic climate change in declining insect populations, partly because our understanding of biotic response to climate is often complicated by habitat loss and degradation among other compounding stressors. We addressed this challenge by integrating expert and community scientist datasets that include decades of monitoring across more than 70 locations spanning the western United States. We found a 1.6% annual reduction in the number of individual butterflies observed over the past four decades, associated in particular with warming during fall months. The pervasive declines that we report advance our understanding of climate change impacts and suggest that a new approach is needed for butterfly conservation in the region, focused on suites of species with shared habitat or host associations.
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