‘Moth Roads’ could help mitigate effects of climate change

For the first time, real data collected by volunteers has been merged with new computer models to uncover which species of UK moths fail to spread to new locations and the geographic constraints that hinder their mobility.

Farmland and suburban butterflies were found to be the most vulnerable, with hills or regions with varying temperatures acting as barriers.

This has implications for UK wildlife which is being pushed to move to adapt to climate change, and restoring habitat in challenging regions could facilitate wildlife mobility.

Butterfly highways

(Photo: JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP via Getty Images)


Dr Jenny Hodgson of the University of Liverpool, lead author of the study, said: “These new computer models will help us focus habitat restoration in the most effective regions to help species survive. ‘adapt to climate change by shifting their ranges across the country’. by ScienceDaily.

According to Professor Tom Oliver, ecologist at the University of Reading and co-author of the study, previous research has revealed how habitat fragmentation in our UK landscapes prevents species from shifting their ranges by response to global change.

To help species adapt to climate change, scientists urgently need targeted habitat restoration.

Using predictions like this, they could essentially build moth highways, allowing endangered species of moths to reach new, more favorable habitats faster in their attempt to live.

There is considerable concern that if habitat is poorly connected or sparse, British animals will be unable to detect climate change.

However, there has been a lack of ability to predict the spread of species across landscapes due to climate change.

The study, which was published today (Friday May 20) in the journal Global Change Biology, found that moth species prevalent in rural and suburban settings were only moving north in some UK landscapes, putting them in danger.

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The impact of climate change on insect ecology

Climate change impacts ecosystems at all levels, from individual genotypes to entire communities, according to the journal, Effects of climate change on animal ecology: butterflies and moths as a case study.

Despite a large amount of knowledge, predicting ecological responses to climate change remains difficult.

Because evidence is scattered across species, habitats, populations, and communities, it is difficult to establish general trends in responses across time and geography.

The authors compiled information from many taxa and ecological systems to create a cohesive synthesis of evidence on the consequences of climate change across the hierarchy of biological structure.

This technique is complemented here by a more in-depth synthesis of a single well-studied taxon to identify appropriate conservation and management approaches for species with overlapping characteristics and ecologies.

Insects have been recommended as instructive models for assessing the effects of climate change on ecological systems because, due to their short generation rates and sensitive ecological needs, they respond quickly to changes in their environment.

There is considerable evidence that they are rapidly disappearing, with climate change playing a significant role.

Understanding the consequences of climate change on insects is a key issue for conservationists because they play a vital role in the formation of terrestrial biota and represent the largest part of animal diversity and biomass.

Unfortunately, the life cycles of many insect groups are poorly understood.

Butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) are the only exception, as they are the best-studied lineage of insects and are already adapting to climate change, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation.

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Teresa H. Sadler