Tuesday, 16 Dec, 2008 Environment

Global Warming Puts Butterflies at Threat


According to a recent research, butterflies inhabiting Europe could go extinct if global climate change keeps progressing.

These beautiful insects will have to fly longer distances while migrating to the north as their habitats may be destroyed as a result of deforestation. Besides, large water areas could also present significant obstacles to their flights.

Josef Settele, ecologist and lead author of the study, explained that butterflies would have to cover about 40 kilometers at a time which could be too long. Even if some species managed to survive during migration, the growth of their population in new habitats could slow down as they might be unable to propagate intensively.

The authors of the study say that a great number of butterflies which can't take part in migrations may disappear if the temperature rises. As scientists predict, both plants and animals affected by global warming will have to change their habitats and move to cooler northern regions. It is believed, that those species which don't migrate will not be able to preserve their existence. However, another viewpoint takes into consideration adaptive capacity of certain species. Settele admitted that some insects could develop quite quickly which raised scientists' hopes.

The information about the research is presented in the journal Biorisk. The idea of the Mapping European Butterflies project belonged to Otakar Kudrna and attracted a great number of volunteers, reported National Geographic.

"I am most concerned about the species restricted to extremely small areas in Europe and not known to live elsewhere," said Otakar Kudrna. He underlined that those species were highly fragile and could become extinct in no time as they didn't possess any reserves.

At the worst an average temperature in Europe may rise up to 4.1 degrees Celsius by 2080 according to the report. If it happens, 70 species of butterflies could lose 95 percent of habitats as the climate would be too hot for existence. At best the temperature can rise to 2.4 degrees Celsius which means that 50 percent of habitats would be intolerable for 147 species.

Camille Parmesan, ecologist from the University of Texas, has studied butterflies that had to change ranges of population under the influence of global warming on the territory of the United States and Europe. She found that more enduring species could migrate in conditions of climate change. However, the more sedentary insects didn't dislocate.

Parmesan is concerned about butterfly species inhabiting isolated mountaintops which haven't been studied so far.

Vincent Devictor from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris pointed out that birds moved 56 miles in the north, but the temperature covered 170 miles. It's worth mentioning that even if animals could move faster, they might not have the necessary food and habitats.

Posted by sharaeff

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