Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

British butterfly reveals role of habitat for species responding to climate change

26.02.2009
Most wild species are expected to colonise northwards as the climate warms, but how are they going to get there when so many landscapes are covered in wheat fields and other crops?

A study published today (Wednesday 25 February 2009) shows it is possible to predict how fast a population will spread and reveals the importance of habitat conservation in helping threatened species survive environmental change

Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research tracks the recovery of a rare British butterfly over 18 years and offers hope for the preservation of other species.

Conducted by the Universities of Exeter, York and Sheffield and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the study could inform future conservation policy to help safeguard vulnerable species against the effects of climate change and habitat destruction.

The silver-spotted skipper is a rare butterfly confined to chalk grasslands in southern England. 80% of such habitats were destroyed in the twentieth century as a result of changes to farming. By 1982 there were fewer than 70 populations of the species, almost all in five networks of chalk hills, and covering an area of only two square kilometres (less than a square mile).

Between 1982 and 2000 a number of conservation measures helped rescue the species from extinction, including reintroducing grazing livestock. The species has also benefited from warmer temperatures resulting from climate change. By 2000, the butterfly had expanded its distribution by colonizing suitable areas of habitat, and occupied an area measuring 21km2, ten times larger than in 1982. However, it only expanded up to 30 km from its existing colonies, and in most regions the range expansions were much shorter.

The research team applied a mathematical model to the geographical spread of the butterfly. They concluded that the recovery of the species depended on the quality and proximity of suitable chalk grassland. In other words, the 'fragmentation' of suitable habitat by human activity held up the rate at which the butterfly could spread through the landscape. The upside was that the researchers could accurately predict how far the species expanded in different landscapes. This suggests that a similar model could be used to predict the conservation activities which most benefit the recovery of this and other rare species.

Lead author Dr Rob Wilson of the University of Exeter said: "Natural habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented, and many species are now confined to tiny suitable areas. To safeguard these species for the future we need to know where to manage habitat – not just to save the few remaining populations, but to bring about genuine recovery. The results of our study show that it may be possible to develop conservation programmes which will increase recovery rates for such species."

Dr Zoe Davies, a collaborator on the paper from the University of Sheffield, said: "Climate change has allowed the silver-spotted skipper to use a wider range of habitats now than in the past. But, even so, the butterfly has barely been able to expand its distribution through a landscape which has been heavily modified by human activity."

Co-author Professor Chris Thomas, of the University of York, added: "Many species will need to move their distributions to survive climate change. Such species may only be able to expand their distributions in landscapes where there is sufficient habitat to do so. We need to take action now to identify and conserve these key landscapes."

Sarah Hoyle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.exeter.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>