Mountain butterflies, wildflowers hit by climate change

“Butterflies… are among the hardest hit by earlier snowmelt.”

The Aspen Daily News reports:

… Population growth has sharply declined among the colorful Mormon fritillary butterfly since 1980. Looking at the species near RMBL, scientists David Inouye and Carol Boggs discovered that the butterflies laid disproportionately low numbers of eggs in the year after an early snowmelt.

They then found that the early springtime is leading to less nectar in the wildflowers that serve as the butterfly’s main food source, and therefore lower birth rates.

When Inouye was awarded federal stimulus funds to conduct the wildflower studies at RMBL, he became a national whipping boy for critics of allegedly pork-laden post-recession spending. Billick joked about the day he began fielding phone calls from Sean Hannity and conservative pundits from Fox News about the research.

While some may scoff at using taxpayer dollars for the kind of work Billick and visiting scientists do at Gothic, he argued that place-based research — and the kind of findings he outlined on Thursday — are integral to understanding the natural world and how it is changing.

He described each of the discoveries among visiting scientists as “individual threads.”

“What RMBL does is it allows us to weave those threads into a tapestry to understand the world we live in,” Billick said…

One thought on “Mountain butterflies, wildflowers hit by climate change”

  1. This research is so bogus it makes my eyes water. I can barely see the computer screen. These butterflies emerge This occurs fairly late in the season, generally late July or and August, and flitters about until autumn in October.

    The claim in the original is *not* that a longer warm season kills the butterflies, but rather, that it kills the flowering plants upon which the butterflies rely for their nourishment. This can be gained from a wide number of different flowering plants.

    Due to the relatively late emergence of these butterflies, who most obviously do *not* emerge during the early snow-melt, it is only the late-blooming flowering plants that are relevant.

    How much an early spring will effect those plants blooming late in summer is quite a leap which remains unexplained. The best the authors can do is claim that an earlier spring forebodes an earlier winter freeze.

    I guess global warming means entire seasons are ‘moving north’ in the calendar! Egads, can it ever be worse than this?

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