“The results are worrying. Until I started this research, I hadn’t quite realised the magnitude and potential impacts from climate change. To limit these losses, both habitat restoration and reducing CO2 emissions have a role. In fact, a combination of both is necessary,” said lead study author Tom Oliver, who is an ecological modeler at Britain’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
He also said that, even if the study took butterflies into consideration, the same theories can be applied to beetles, dragonflies, moths and birds.
Along with his team of researchers, he looked at data from about 130 sites where 28 species of butterflies are tracked through the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. This has been tracking shifts in the number of butterflies for almost four decades and it also includes historical weather data.
After looking at the most arid summer over the last three centuries, which was recorded in 1995, the experts managed to distinguish the species that were most vulnerable to heat. They found six such sensitive butterfly species that include the speckled wood, the large skipper, the carbon white butterflies, the green-veined white, the ringlet and the cabbage white.
Afterwards, they simulated a scenario in which greenhouse emissions would continue at the same level they do today, leading to extremely high temperatures. They realized that these species of butterflies would not manage to survive past the year 2050.
The Butterfly Conservation reported that about 75 percent of the butterflies are already in decline. This is extremely worrying because these insects are important pollinators and, along with bees, which are also threatened by various factors, contribute to millions of pounds worth of plants. Moreover, they are important elements in the food chain.
Fortunately, we are the only ones who can put an end to this dramatic situation, by cutting greenhouse emissions and protecting and restoring the insects’ natural habitats.
By doing that, we will actually do ourselves a service, even if results are not seen immediately. However hard it is for us to accept it, climate change is affecting us too and, unless we start doing something about it, certain butterfly species will not be the only ones which become extinct.
Image Source: magiconlife