Lev Bely, 15.04.2012 21:31
One of the latest studies* says that some butterflies get away from sun to shady forests. Albeit, only few do save themselves in such a way. “A lot of the butterflies we were looking at are threatened by climate change. With the warmer temperatures, it will be too hot for a lot of them to survive in southern Europe,” told Andrew Suggitt, a study researcher, graduate student at the University of York in the United Kingdom.
Researchers were looking to see if under changing temperatures butterflies would move to warmer or cooler areal parts, leaving, say, open, sunny fields for shady, wooded forests.
“We thought the butterflies might be able to use cooler habitat to escape warmer temperatures,” Suggitt said. “If they are doing it at the moment, they might be able to do that to escape climate warming.”
Researches analyzed data on 36 species gathered between 1994 and 2009 from various studies made in the UK and Spain, and they paid special attention to the number of species and individuals in shady habitats and open, sunny areas. Having compared these data to average season temperatures, they found out that there was a direct connection between higher temperatures and butterflies shifting to cooler areas.
In Spain 75% of species (25 of the 36) were also getting away from heat, but within the very species just 1.3% of butterflies really moved to new habitats for every degree Celsius increase in temperature.
“They were making more use of the cooler habitats to do what they need to do, things like mating, feeding and completing their lifecycle, when it's too hot to do that in the warmer habitat,” Suggitt said. “The catch is that the actual proportion of butterfly population that can make the shift is quite small.”
Researchers concluded that though the majority of species are capable to leave for cooler areal parts, those individuals who really change habitat are not enough to save the species.
Most likely, butterflies are also held by their feed plants and other natural resources, so they just can't leave warmer areas even being barely able to survive there.
The study shows that microclimates influenced more butterflies in Spain where changing temperatures literally ousted lepidoptera from their common habitats, while in the United Kingdom butterflies are expanding their range northward. Researchers noted that in Spain butterflies will keep going north and to higher altitudes to escape the heat.
*The study is published in Biology Letters journal.
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