Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earlier butterfly emergence linked to climate change

Date:
March 19, 2010
Source:
University of Melbourne
Summary:
Butterflies are emerging in spring over 10 days earlier than they did 65 years ago, a shift that has been linked to regional human-induced climate change in an Australian-led study. The work reveals a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, regional warming and the change in timing of a natural event.

Common Brown butterfly (Heteronympha merope).
Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Butterflies are emerging in spring over 10 days earlier than they did 65 years ago, a shift that has been linked to regional human-induced climate change in a University of Melbourne- led study. The work reveals, for the first time, a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, regional warming and the change in timing of a natural event.

The study found that over a 65 year period, the mean emergence date for adults of the Common Brown butterfly (Heteronympha merope) has shifted 1.6 days earlier per decade in Melbourne, Australia. The findings are unique because the early emergence is causally linked with a simultaneous increase in air temperatures around Melbourne of approximately 0.14C per decade, and this warming is shown to be human-induced (anthropogenic).

Lead author of the study Dr Michael Kearney from the Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne says the findings could help our ability to forecast future impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

"Shifts in these seasonal life cycle events represent a challenge to species, altering the food and competition present at the time of hatching. Studies such as ours will allow better forecasting of these shifts and help us understand more about their consequences," says Dr Kearney.

The butterfly emergence work was conducted by Dr Kearney and PhD student Natalie Briscoe. Professor David Karoly from the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne contributed the climate modeling work. Co-authors include Dr Warren Porter (University of Wisconsin) and Drs Melanie Norgate and Paul Sunnucks from Monash University. The study was funded by an Australian Research Council grant to Monash, Melbourne and Wisconsin Universities.

The study will be published in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society.

The team raised caterpillars of the Common Brown Butterfly in the laboratory to measure the physiological impact of temperature on its rate of development. They used this information to model the effect of observed historical climate trends in Melbourne on the speed of the butterfly's development. They combined this with global climate model outputs for the Melbourne area over the same period to examine whether natural climate variability or human influence on climate was more likely to have caused the air temperature change seen in Melbourne.

"Scientists have previously observed that biological events are happening progressively earlier in spring over the past few decades. This new work has tied the earlier emergence of butterflies directly to a regional temperature increase, and has tied the temperature increase very strongly to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations caused by humans," says Professor Karoly.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Melbourne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael R. Kearney, Natalie J. Briscoe, David J. Karoly, Warren P. Porter, Melanie Norgate, and Paul Sunnucks. Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming. Biology Letters, 2010; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0053

Cite This Page:

University of Melbourne. "Earlier butterfly emergence linked to climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100318132510.htm>.
University of Melbourne. (2010, March 19). Earlier butterfly emergence linked to climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100318132510.htm
University of Melbourne. "Earlier butterfly emergence linked to climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100318132510.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins