Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Expanding forests darken the outlook for butterflies

19.07.2005


Changing environmental conditions in the Canadian Rockies are stifling the mating choices of butterflies in the region, say University of Alberta researchers.

Smaller and less abundant alpine meadows--largely the result of human activities--are diminishing the alpine butterfly gene pool, creating a pattern that could lead to the butterflies being less able to survive, said Dr. Jens Roland, a biological scientist at the University of Alberta and an author of a paper on the subject that has been published recently in Molecular Ecology.

Working with colleagues in the U of A Department of Biological Sciences, Roland and doctoral student Nusha Keyghobadi used samples of butterfly dispersal and genetic variability taken from the Kananaskis region in Alberta to show a correlation between less genetic diversity and smaller meadows.



According to Roland, the altitude of the tree line in the Canadian Rockies is rising--likely due to global warming--and, outside of national parks, forest fires are usually suppressed. These factors are combining to create larger forests and smaller alpine meadows. This is bad news for butterflies in the Rockies, such as the Parnasissus, which Roland studies, because they require two things that they can easily find in meadows: sunlight and stone crop.

Butterflies need sunlight to elevate their body temperatures in order to fly, and forests are generally too shady for them to travel through with quickness and ease. Parnasissus also need stone crop, a plant that grows in meadows and is the only suitable host for alpine butterfly larvae.

Therefore, alpine butterflies do not generally travel beyond the meadows they are born in, and the shrinking meadows could lead to inbreeding and the decreased diversity in the gene pool, Roland said.

"In general, inbreeding leads a species to be more vulnerable to a variety of mortality factors that lower survival rates," Roland explained. "This has been demonstrated for other species of butterflies."

Only a few species of butterflies are threatened in the Canadian Rockies, but many more are threatened in Europe, where the problem of shrinking alpine meadows is older and more acute. Roland believes the results of his study can inform conservation biologists in Europe to help them save their butterflies.

As for protecting the butterflies in the Canadian Rockies, Roland would like to see more prescribed burning of forests to increase the number and size of alpine meadows. However, unlike the park areas, the unprotected land areas are often used for commercial purposes and are therefore less likely to be allowed to burn.

"They do prescribed burning in the national parks for general maintenance, but they also do it to increase the meadow areas, which animals such as sheep and elk like to inhabit. The offshoot is that it also helps smaller animals, such as the butterflies," Roland said.

Ryan Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca
http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/faculty/jens_roland/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>