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The wings of change
As scientists find additional indications of global warming in the shrinking Arctic ice cap, Thomas Emmel sees evidence a lot closer to home...
In the winter, Emmel has seen the unusual sight of monarch butterflies covered in frost outside the University of Florida's McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, which he directs. The monarch used to make only sporadic appearances in Gainesville, but now maintains residence throughout the year.
Skeptics of global warming need to look no further than the monarch and a dozen other butterfly species that in the past 25 years started breeding here year round, he said.
"You can see them flying on Christmas Day or New Year's Day," he said...
...Species that previously lived in South Florida have shifted an average of 30 miles northward each year for the past 15 years, he said...
Florida's state butterfly, the zebra longwing, is an example. The species, distinguishable by its long black wings with thin yellow bands, used to only appear here in late summer. Now it can be found all 12 months of the year, Emmel said.
While more butterflies are appearing in Gainesville, others are leaving. Five butterfly species have left the area or significantly diminished in numbers as they moved in search of cooler temperatures, Emmel said...
EU's butterfly havens are vanishing
Vanishing wet grasslands are making a nonsense of the European Union's plan to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, if the alarming decline in butterflies is anything to go by.
Since the 1990s, Martin Warren of Butterfly Conservation in the UK and his colleagues in the Netherlands have been gathering information on butterfly distribution in 45 European countries. They have found serious declines in almost every country, with 71 of the total 576 species now classed as threatened.
Now the team has classified butterfly fortunes by habitat and found that the areas occupied by specialist wetland or forest species shrank by about 15 per cent in the past 25 years. Grassland butterflies have fared even worse, their distribution shrinking by 19 per cent (Journal of Insect Conservation, vol 10, p 189).
Originally posted by Regenmacher
Populations of honeybees and butterflies, nature's flying pollen-spreaders, is dwindling in many places due to urban sprawl, pesticides, predators and climate change.