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Early spring drives butterfly population declines: 'Ahead-of-time' snowmelt triggers chains of events in the Mormon Fritillary butterfly

ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2012) -- Early snowmelt caused by climate change in the Colorado Rocky Mountains snowballs into two chains of events: a decrease in the number of flowers, which, in turn, decreases available nectar. The result is decline in a population of the Mormon Fritillary butterfly, Speyeria mormonia.

Using long-term data on date of snowmelt, butterfly population sizes and flower numbers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Carol Boggs, a biologist at Stanford University, and colleagues uncovered multiple effects of early snowmelt on the growth rate of an insect population.

"Predicting effects of climate change on organisms' population sizes will be difficult in some cases due to lack of knowledge of the species' biology," said Boggs, lead author of a paper reporting the results online in this week's journal Ecology Letters.

Taking into account the butterfly's life cycle and the factors determining egg production was important to the research.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 18th, 2012 at 03:11:58 PM EST
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