Western butterflies declining as climate gets warmer, drier
A new study “Fewer butterflies seen by community scientists across the warming and drying landscapes of the American West” published in the Journal Science last week paints a dim picture for western butterfly species. The study found that butterfly abundance has declined by 1.6% each year for the past four decades. Previous studies have revealed strong correlations between butterfly declines and human development and pesticide use. This new study found that climate change – specifically, warming fall temperatures – is more strongly correlated with the decline of butterfly abundance in the western United States.
Citation: Forister, M. L., C. A. Halsch, C. C. Nice, J. A. Fordyce, T. E. Dilts, J. C. Oliver, K. L. Prudic, A. M. Shapiro, J. K. Wilson, and J. Glassberg. 2021. Fewer butterflies seen by community scientists across the warming and drying landscapes of the american west. Science 371:1042–1045.