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Global warming could destroy some butterfly populations

A white peacock butterfly in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve. PHOTO COURTESY TRACY ENRIGHT/US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

Researchers try to pinpoint which species might be better able to adapt to global warming

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming is expected to result in localized extinctions of up to one-third of all butterfly species, but others may be better equipped to adapt to a changing climate.

A recently published study concluded that butterflies which tend to emerge later in the year or fly higher in the mountains are probably more vulnerable becayse they have evolved to deal with a shorter window of opportunity to reproduce.

The findings have implications beyond just the survival of individual butterfly species, since their absence or presence has effects on pollination and other functions of herbaceous ecosystems.

“Insects and plants are at the base of the food pyramid and are extremely important, but they often get less attention when we are studying the ecological impacts of climate change,” said Javier G. Illan, with the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University.

“We’re already expecting localized extinctions of about one third of butterfly species, so we need to understand how climate change will affect those that survive,” he said. “This research makes it clear that some will do a lot better than others.”

Butterflies may be particularly sensitive to a changing climate, Illan said, and make a good model to study the broader range of ecological effects linked to insects. Their flight dates are a relevant indicator of future responses to climate change.

The research was done by Illan’s group in the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. It examined 32 butterfly species for five years at various elevations in a Mediterranean mountain range, and the delays in flight dates that occurred as a result of elevation change.

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5 Responses

  1. Hello and thank you for this article. So-called environmentally induced migration is multi-level problem. According to Essam El-Hinnawi definition form 1985 environmental refugees as those people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural or triggered by people) that jeopardised their existence and/or seriously affected the quality of their life. The fundamental distinction between `environmental migrants` and `environmental refugees` is a standpoint of contemporsry studies in EDPs.

    According to Bogumil Terminski it seems reasonable to distinguish the general category of environmental migrants from the more specific (subordinate to it) category of environmental refugees.

    Environmental migrants, therefore, are persons making a short-lived, cyclical, or longerterm change of residence, of a voluntary or forced character, due to specific environmental factors. Environmental refugees form a specific type of environmental migrant.

    Environmental refugees, therefore, are persons compelled to spontaneous, short-lived, cyclical, or longer-term changes of residence due to sudden or gradually worsening changes in environmental factors important to their living, which may be of either a short-term or an irreversible character.

    According to Norman Myers environmental refugees are “people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty”.

  2. Is is climate change or global warming? Make up your mind. If it’s climate change, it happens four times a year, every year. It’s called winter, spring, summer and fall. I’m not about to accept your “theory” and grant to the federal government more money to waste fighting a mythical theory that many scientists do not accept as fact. Most countries who do not buy into global warming will be at a huge advantage economically over us if we throw money down this pit on a whim. I would suggest we focus on the Keystone pipeline and drilling here in the US so we can be energy independent of the Saudis.

    • Just for you I changed the headline. Enjoy the toasty weather :)

    • Well done Tammy for failing in basic comprehension and winning in using propaganda to fight the science. Now, here’s a little lesson I taught my daughter when she was 5. Are you ready? Sit up straight now. Ok, here we go.
      Climate change is a term used to encompass a range of things relating to the climate. These include things like global warming, global cooling, changes in rainfall and changes in wind patterns, just to name a few. It isn’t used to describe winter, spring, summer and fall. They are called seasons. You might want to write that down in your notebook. I know it can get confusing. Now, global warming, which isn’t disputed by climate experts, far from being “mythical” is a fact and you should probably get used to that. Touting spurious canards like “many scientists do not accept as fact” is as tiresome to read as it demonstrative of your ignorance. Name for me just 3 climatologists that fitinto this category.
      Finally, tell me something else, since you seem to think you understand economics, as the world moves forward into renewables, which are fast approaching parity in terms of cost and will in fact be cheaper by 2020, do you think its a good idea to continue pumping oil given that it will become increasingly expensive as it gets rarer? To me, that seems a rather strange way to save money. You country is going to miss the boat and is on a fast track to becoming an economic backwater by the middle of this century.

  3. Bob, great post. I have a resources page at my blog with a number of papers dealing with range shifts in a large variety of species. It’s http://uknowispeaksense.wordpress.com/links-to-papers/

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