According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, butterflies in the UK may be facing extinction by 2050. Significant efforts to combat global warming combined with increasing countryside wilderness biodiversity may yet be able to prevent a total collapse of the population.
“Widespread, drought-sensitive butterfly population extinction could occur as early as 2050,” scientists stated in the Journal.
Expanding and connecting natural habitats may prevent total extinction but with an expected increase in global temperatures by at least 2 degrees Celsius the outlook is grim.
“Conservationists increasingly recognise the importance of reducing fragmentation of natural habitats rather than simply managing protected ‘islands’ in a hostile landscape of intensive farming,” Oliver said by email.
The results of the study point to serious consequences for other types of insects as butterflies are considered to be amongst the most fragile of the species and an indicator of what is to come for more climate-tolerant insects. Drought and other factors having a negative impact on butterflies may eventually have a similar effect on insects such as bees that are vital for humanity’s food supply.
The study is based on data from 129 sites in the UK and monitored how 28 species were affected by a severe drought in 1995 which experienced the worst drought on record, droughts like these are expected to become more common as the climate gets warmer.