Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UK butterfly populations threatened by extreme drought and landscape fragmentation

Date:
November 1, 2012
Source:
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Summary:
A new study has found that the sensitivity and recovery of UK butterfly populations to extreme drought is affected by the overall area and degree of fragmentation of key habitat types in the landscape.

A Ringlet butterfly.
Credit: Copyright Ross Newham

A new study has found that the sensitivity and recovery of UK butterfly populations to extreme drought is affected by the overall area and degree of fragmentation of key habitat types in the landscape.

The analysis, published this week in the scientific journal Ecography, used data on the Ringlet butterfly collected from 79 UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme sites between 1990 and 1999, a period which spanned a severe drought event in 1995.

The study was led by Dr Tom Oliver from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in collaboration with colleagues from CEH and the charity Butterfly Conservation.

Lead author Dr Tom Oliver from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Most ecological climate change studies focus on species' responses to gradual temperature rise, but it may be that extreme weather will actually have the greatest impact on our wildlife. We have provided the first evidence that species responses to extreme events may be affected by the habitat structure in the wider countryside; for example in the total area and fragmentation (i.e. isolation) of woodland patches."

The UK has suffered from a number of severe droughts over the last few decades (e.g. 1976, 1995). Under global warming, the frequency of such summer droughts is expected to increase. The intense summer drought in 1995 led to marked declines in insect species associated with cooler and wetter microclimates and scientists are interested in how to make species populations more resilient, i.e. more resistant to and more able to recover from these extreme climate events.

The Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus is a grass-feeding butterfly commonly found close to woodland edges and known to be susceptible to drought effects. The researchers found that, following the 1995 drought, Ringlet populations not only crashed most severely in drier regions but, additionally, the habitat structure in the wider countryside around sites influenced population responses. Larger and more connected patches of woodland habitat reduced population sensitivity to the drought event and also facilitated faster recovery.

Co-author Dr Tom Brereton from Butterfly Conservation said, "Our results suggest that landscape-scale conservation projects are vital in helping species to recover from extreme events expected under climate change. However, conversely, if we do nothing, the high levels of habitat fragmentation will mean species are more susceptible."

Although many Ringlet populations did show some recovery following 1995-1996 population crashes, the long-term situation of the species in some parts of the UK is worrying. The researchers found that 18% of Ringlet butterfly populations continued to decline in the subsequent three years. The majority of populations showed positive recovery, although only 33% of populations showed complete recovery to pre-drought population levels within three years.

Co-author Dr David Roy from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology added, "The delayed recovery of butterfly populations is worrying given that severe summer droughts are expected to become common in some areas of the UK, for example, South East England. If populations don't recover by the time the next drought hits, they may face gradual erosion until local extinction."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tom H. Oliver, Tom Brereton, David B. Roy. Population resilience to an extreme drought is influenced by habitat area and fragmentation in the local landscape. Ecography, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.07665.x

Cite This Page:

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "UK butterfly populations threatened by extreme drought and landscape fragmentation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121101073008.htm>.
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. (2012, November 1). UK butterfly populations threatened by extreme drought and landscape fragmentation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121101073008.htm
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "UK butterfly populations threatened by extreme drought and landscape fragmentation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121101073008.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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