19 June 2024
Climate change: Butterflies thrive

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Climate Change Impact on Butterflies and Moths

Climate change is a pressing issue that affects various aspects of our environment, including the delicate ecosystems that support the diverse species of butterflies and moths. These beautiful insects play crucial roles in pollination and serve as indicators of ecosystem health. However, the changing climate is pushing many butterfly and moth species to their limits, with some thriving while others struggle to survive.

Winners and Losers in the Butterfly Race

In the competition to adapt to a shifting climate, some butterfly species are faring well, such as the brown hairstreak and the comma butterfly, which have shown stable populations and significant range expansions in the UK. Unfortunately, these success stories overshadow the challenges faced by many other butterfly species. Reports indicate that 80% of butterfly species have experienced declines in abundance or distribution since the 1980s, with eight species listed as endangered and 16 as vulnerable. The situation is similarly dire for moths, with a 33% decrease in macromoth abundance over the last five decades.

Impacts of Changing Landscapes on Butterfly Habitats

The changing landscape due to factors like declining coppicing, intensified agriculture, and urbanization has significantly impacted butterfly habitats. Specialist species like the high brown fritillary, which rely on specific host plants, face threats as their habitats diminish. For instance, the high brown fritillary, dependent on violets found in coppiced woodlands, has seen its range vastly reduced, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these fragile ecosystems.

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Challenges of Temperature Extremes and Altitude for Butterflies

Rising temperatures due to climate change pose challenges for butterflies and moths, impacting their ability to regulate body temperature and reproduce effectively. Extreme temperatures can lead to early death in butterflies and reduce fertility, potentially leading to long-term population declines. Species like the mountain ringlet, existing at higher altitudes for cooler climates, face the risk of losing their habitats as temperatures rise. Similarly, sedentary species like the adonis blue may struggle to shift their ranges northward as their habitats change.

The impact of climate change on butterflies and moths is a complex and urgent issue that requires concerted efforts to mitigate. Conservation programs, citizen science initiatives, and individual actions to preserve habitats are crucial in safeguarding these vital insect species and the ecosystems they support. By understanding and addressing the challenges faced by butterflies and moths, we can work towards a sustainable future for these delicate creatures in a changing world.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/climate-change-pushing-butterflies-moths-to-their-limits 2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-is-pushing-butterflies-and-moths-to-their-limits/ 3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/03/230309101452.htm

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Butterflies, Moths, Climate change

Butterfly
Butterflies are winged insects from the lepidopteran suborder Rhopalocera, characterized by large, often brightly coloured wings that often fold together when at rest, and a conspicuous, fluttering flight. The group comprises the superfamilies Hedyloidea (moth-butterflies in the Americas) and Papilionoidea (all others). The oldest butterfly fossils have been dated to...
Read more: Butterfly

Moth
Moths are a group of insects that includes all members of the order Lepidoptera that are not butterflies. They were previously classified as suborder Heterocera, but the group is paraphyletic with respect to butterflies (suborder Rhopalocera) and neither subordinate taxon is used in modern classifications. Moths make up the vast...
Read more: Moth

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is more rapid than previous changes, and is primarily...
Read more: Climate change

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