Big Ohio Study Matches Global Butterfly & Insect Declines


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 11 July 2019

 

BUTTERFLIES

Swallowtail Butterfly
Swallowtail on flower, Oregon State University, Rob Liptak, Ohio Lepidopterists.
Swallowtail on flower, Oregon State University, Rob Liptak, Ohio Lepidopterists.

 

Big Ohio Study Matches Global Butterfly & Insect Declines

Decades-Long Butterfly Study Shows Common Species on the Decline,
Oregon State University, July 9, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

2% Annual Decrease
33% Loss Over 21 Year Study
"...butterfly abundance in Ohio declined yearly by 2%, resulting in an overall 33% drop for the 21 years of the program."

All Over World?
"The findings also are in line with those of butterfly monitoring programs in multiple European countries."

Pollinators Looking Bad
"These declines in abundance are happening in common species," said Oregon State University researcher Tyson Wepprich, who led the study. "Declines in common species concern me because it shows that there are widespread environmental causes for the declines affecting species we thought were well adapted to share a landscape with humans. Common species are also the ones that contribute the bulk of the pollination or bird food to the ecosystem, so their slow, consistent decline is likely having ripple effects beyond butterfly numbers."

21 Year Study
"...used more than 24,000 butterfly surveys contributed by trained citizen scientists from 1996 through 2016 to establish his findings."

Half in Decline
"The data from Ohio enabled population trends to be estimated for 81 butterfly species and found three times as many species were trending downward as upward - three out of every four species with a positive or negative trend grew less abundant over the course of the monitoring. Forty of the analyzed species had no significant trend up or down."

Northern Bias in Decline?
More Change to Cooler Areas?
"Species with more northern distributions and fewer annual generations declined the most rapidly...adding that these species are adapted to cooler regions and may do worse in Ohio with warming temperatures."

Other Insects Decline, Too
"Environmental assessments use them as an indicator for the general trajectory of biodiversity since they experience the same types of pressures from land-use changes, climate change and habitat degradation as other insect groups."

Invasives Decline, Too
"...even some invasive species associated with human-dominated landscapes are declining, which suggests the trends are rooted in widespread environmental causes."

Consistent Global Decline
Ohio Metrics Matching-up with Globe
"...our study is showing that the rate of change in Ohio butterfly abundance is very similar to that found in monitoring programs in the UK, the Netherlands and Spain," Wepprich said. "The rate of total decline and the proportion of species in decline mirror those documented in comparable monitoring programs."

Environmental Degradation
If Not Destruction…
"Even though the common butterfly species aren't yet close to extinction, declines in those species will nevertheless have an outsized, negative impact on ecosystem services provided by insects."

Other Views
"Over the past two decades, the migratory eastern North American monarch has declined by more than 85% and the western North American monarch by more than 95%, said Wepprich, adding that some of the rarest butterflies have also fallen off sharply."

Multi-Decade Insect Decline
45% over 40 Years
"...butterfly decline in Ohio is greater than the global rate of 35% over 40 years, and is closer to the estimated rate for insects in general: a 45% decline over 40 years. "

 

Recent Butterfly, Bee, & Bug Research

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2018 Annual Euro-Bee Count

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Everywhere

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