Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Flutter bys....

Monday, 5 January 2009

Flutter bys....

It is 2050. Your great grandchild bends over the pile of discarded books while clearing out your shed or attic or store-room, and selects a faded tome. Brushing away the dust s/he traces the remains of the title... "Climatic Risk Atlas of European Butterflies - 2008". "So they knew!" The exclamation cuts through the cloying, hazy heat and the sound of the windmill generators. "They had the data, they had seen the signs... why didn't they do anything?"

Two things about butterflies - they are attractive, disctinctive and available, so we have credible, detailed, temporal and spatial data from thousands of volunteers. They are also indicator species, whose diversity and abundance can demonstrate the health of a habitat and therefore its ability to provide "ecosystem services". Applying climate models (ranging from 2.4 to 4.1 degrees C of increase) to this extensive data set paints a depressing picture. But take time to look at that picture. Think what the butterflies are telling us and let's get behind those recommendations in the Risk Atlas before we flutter along by towards extinction ourselves.



3 comments:

Chris T said...

I have never really understood the intrigue of butterflies, but that is purely due to my ignorance and lack of curiosity towards them... From your blog I am tilted towards the fact that they can be so varied in colour, size, patterns and maybe I will rethink my views on these fragile creatures! I guess my previous perceptions of butterflies are influenced by the macho side of me - imagining them in a scene of a movie where a young girl is chasing them through a meadow. In this instance I must look closer and not at the larger picture!

Arjay said...

Well, so long as that young girl is a scientist with a book and butterfly net, you can keep your dreams, Chris.

But there is a darker side of Lepidoptera.... check out the marauding moths in Liberia on http://new.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7868086.stm

martin said...

It doesn't surprise me that you are giving bad press to the moths... ;)