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 Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's smallest optical implantable biodevice

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space

26.04.2018 | Life Sciences

First Li-Fi-product with technology from Fraunhofer HHI launched in Japan

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>