disrupted by global warming
to change: the brown argus butterfly
rare and localised species may die out as a result of
global warming, warn researchers from the centre for biodiversity
and conservation. Their research, published in last weeks
Nature, shows that climate change is having a direct impact
on the process of evolution.
Earths climate has warmed rapidly over the last
30 years and will get hotter still during the next century.
Studies have shown that animals and plants around the
world are moving to higher latitudes and altitudes to
find cooler conditions. Professor Chris Thomas and colleagues
demonstrated that this is made possible both by adaptation
to new habitats and by evolutionary change.
team found that two butterfly species, the silver-spotted
skipper (Hesperia comma) and the brown argus (Aricia agestis)
adapt to different habitats to extend their range to cooler
areas, thereby spreading faster than would otherwise have
bush cricket species each include two types one
unable to fly, or of very limited flying ability, and
one longer-winged variety that can fly much further. As
the species have moved northwards, the incidence of long-winged
individuals has increased dramatically, accelerating the
range of expansion.
Thomas explains: "At walking pace, these insects
would struggle to cross a field, yet they are spreading
at more than five miles a year. Their ranges have expanded
around ten times faster than expected before the climate
began to warm, because the insects themselves have changed
evolutionary change due to global warming."
results dont mean that its possible for all
species to adapt to climate change, as the changes required
to survive are quite considerable," warns Dr Robert
Wilson. "Rare and localised species, in particular,
may die out before they change enough to get themselves
out of trouble. We need to reduce greenhouse emissions
immediately, to lessen the disruption global warming is