Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Butterflies Reeling From Impacts of Climate and Development

12.01.2010
California butterflies are reeling from a one-two punch of climate change and land development, says an unprecedented analysis led by UC Davis butterfly expert Arthur Shapiro.

The new analysis, scheduled to be published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, gives insights on how a major and much-studied group of organisms is reacting to the Earth's warming climate.

"Butterflies are not only charismatic to the public, but also widely used as indicators of the health of the environment worldwide," said Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology. "We found many lowland species are being hit hard by the combination of warmer temperatures and habitat loss."

The results are drawn from Shapiro's 35-year database of butterfly observations made twice monthly at 10 sites in north-central California from sea level to tree line. The Shapiro butterfly database is unique in science for its combination of attributes: one observer (which reduces errors), very long-term, multiple sites surveyed often, a large number of species (more than 150), and attendant climatological data.

Shapiro's co-authors include three other UC Davis researchers and two former Shapiro graduate students, including lead analyst Matthew Forister, now an assistant professor of biology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Their most significant findings:

Butterfly diversity (the number of different species present) is falling fast at all the sites near sea level. It is declining more slowly or holding roughly constant in the mountains, except at tree line.
At tree line, butterfly diversity is actually going up, as lower-elevation species react to the warming climate by moving upslope to higher, cooler elevations.
Diversity among high-elevation butterflies is beginning to fall as temperatures become uncomfortably warm for them and, Shapiro says, "There is nowhere to go except heaven."

Using a battery of statistical approaches, Shapiro and his colleagues concluded that climate change alone cannot account in full for the deteriorating low-elevation numbers. Land-use data show that the butterfly losses have been greatest where habitat has been converted from rural to urban and suburban types.

He added that one of the most surprising findings was that ruderal (“weedy”) butterfly species that breed on “weedy” plants in disturbed habitats and are highly mobile are actually declining faster than “non-weedy” species -- those that specialize in one habitat type.

This is especially true in the mountains, where such species do not persist over winter but must recolonize every year from lower altitudes. As their numbers drop in the valleys, fewer are available to disperse uphill, and the rate of colonization drops.

“Butterfly folks generally consider these ruderal species to be ‘junk species,’ sort of the way bird watchers think of pigeons and starlings,” said Shapiro. “So it came as a shock to discover that they were being hit even harder than the species that conservationists are used to thinking about.

"Some of the 'weedy' species have been touted as great success stories, in which native butterflies had successfully adapted to the changed conditions created by European colonization of California. That was the case for many decades, but habitat loss has apparently caught up with them now.”

The study, "Compounded effects of climate change and habitat alteration shift patterns of butterfly diversity," will be online at http://www.pnas.org. It was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Additional authors are: at UC Davis, research scientist James Thorne in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and graduate students Joshua O’Brien in the Graduate Group in Ecology and David Waetjen in the Geography Graduate Group; at Denison University in Ohio, assistant professor Andrew McCall; and at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, assistant professor Nathan Sanders and associate professor James Fordyce (another former Shapiro student).

The Shapiro database is online at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu. It includes butterfly observations and study site maps, together with climate data from nearby weather stations, descriptions of study sites and habitats, and numerous photos. The 10 survey sites lie along Interstate 80 and range from low-lying Suisun Marsh on San Francisco Bay to 9,103-foot-high Castle Peak near Donner Summit.

The database was made public in 2007, also with funding from the National Science Foundation (news release, http://www-news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=8068).

About UC Davis
For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 32,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $600 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
Media contact(s):
Arthur Shapiro, Evolution and Ecology, (530) 752-2176, amshapiro@ucdavis.edu
Sylvia Wright, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, swright@ucdavis.edu

Arthur Shapiro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technology offers fast peptide synthesis
28.02.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

nachricht Biofuel produced by microalgae
28.02.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology offers fast peptide synthesis

28.02.2017 | Life Sciences

WSU research advances energy savings for oil, gas industries

28.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Who can find the fish that makes the best sound?

28.02.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>