Butterfly benefits from global warming

2012-05-25 08:28
A brown Argus butterfly spotted in an area in which they did not traditionally range. (Butterfly Conservation, Keith Warmington, AP)

A brown Argus butterfly spotted in an area in which they did not traditionally range. (Butterfly Conservation, Keith Warmington, AP) (Keith Warmington)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Global warming is rescuing the once-rare brown Argus butterfly, scientists say.

Man-made climate is threatening the existence of many species, such as the giant polar bear. But in the case of the small drab British butterfly, it took a species in trouble and made it thrive.

It's all about food. Over about 25 years, the butterfly went from in trouble to pushing north in Britain where it found a veritable banquet. Now the butterfly lives in twice as large an area as it once did and is not near threatened, according to a study in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Decades ago, the brown Argus "was sort of a special butterfly that you would have to go to a special place to see and now it's a butterfly you can see in regular farmland or all over the place," said study co-author Richard Fox, an ecologist at Butterfly Conservation, a science and advocacy group in Britain.

Global warming helping the brown Argus is unusual compared to other species and that's why scientists are studying it more, said study co-author Jane Hill, a professor of ecology at the University of York.

Biologists expect climate change to create winners and losers in species. Stanford University biologist Terry Root, who was not part of this study, estimated that for every winner like the brown Argus there are three loser species, like the cuckoo bird in Europe.

Hill agreed that it's probably a three-to-one ratio of climate change losers to winners.

As the world warms, the key interactions between species break down because the predator and prey may not change habitats at the same time, meaning some species will move north to cooler climes and won't find enough to eat, Root said.

"There are just so many species that are going to go extinct," Root said.

What makes the brown Argus different is that it found something new to eat, something even better than its old food, the less common rockrose plant, Hill said. The new food is a geranium and it is more widespread.

"It's almost like the whole of the buffet is now open to it," Hill said.

Read more on:    science  |  animals  |  climate change

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Prince George the green prince?

Prince Charles hopes his grandson's love of the outdoors will become a passion for the environment.



One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer
Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods – What climate change really means for us

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The full moon energy can be quite intense today as your emotions fight against reason. It is important to ground your ideas and...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.