Global warming leads to butterfly migration

Posted by Mark Raby

It may not be grand enough of a topic for Al Gore, but Harvard is interested in seeing how climate change affects butterflies.

University scientists published an article in Nature Climate Change, which shows how butterfly communities are being reshaped as a result of the uncertain climate.

According to their data, northerly species are declining in population while those that thrive in subtropical environments have been thriving.

"For most butterfly species, climate change seems to be a stronger change-agent than habitat loss. Protecting habitat remains a key management strategy, and that may help some butterfly species. However, for many others, habitat protection will not mitigate the impacts of warming," said lead author Greg Breed.

The group also analyzed data provided by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club.

"Careful datasets from amateur naturalists play a valuable role in our understanding of species dynamics. Scientists constantly ask questions, but sometimes the data just isn’t there to provide the answers, and we can’t go back in time to collect it. This study would not have been possible without the dedication and knowledge of the data collectors on those 19,000 club trips," said study author Elizabeth Crone.

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