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03.16.12 News
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Early Spring Drives Butterfly Population Declines

Early snowmelt caused by climate change in the Colorado Rocky Mountains snowballs into two chains of events: a decrease in the number of flowers, which, in turn, decreases available nectar. The result is decline in a population of the Mormon Fritillary butterfly, Speyeria mormonia.

Using long-term data on date of snowmelt, butterfly population sizes and flower numbers researchers uncovered multiple effects of early snowmelt on the growth rate of an insect population. Taking into account the butterfly's life cycle and the factors determining egg production was important to the research.

 

Image credit: Carol Boggs