News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

NOCHE

Greater Akron Chamber

Wayside Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment




Exploradio: Butterflies battered by both climate change and urban sprawl
The combination of warming temperatures and habitat loss is shortening the already short lives of some butterflies in Ohio
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Many butterfly species are valuable indicators of the effects of climate change and urbanization on ecosystems. A dedicated fan base has been monitoring Ohio's butterfly populations since 1996, providing a one-of-a-kind detailed data set.
Courtesy of Darrell Rudmann, FLickr CC
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Citizen-scientists in Ohio have spent the past two decades collecting a set of data that’s unparalleled in the country. It’s a long-term study of butterflies.

And in this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports researchers combing through the numbers have discovered an unexpected impact from the combined effects of climate change and urbanization.

 

Exploradio: Butterflies on the brink

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:35)


It takes commitment to be a citizen scientist. A group of volunteers in Ohio has been counting butterflies for nearly two decades.

Jerome Wiedmann heads the monitoring program for the Ohio Lepidopterists Society, and he says they have counted, "a million butterflies.”

Once a week since 1996, from April through November, Wiedmann walks a a mile-long transect "through the neighbor’s yard and my yard and abandoned field..."

Wiedmann and an army of enthusiasts count butterflies on more than 80 transects across Ohio. Their observations include when each species is first spotted, its peak numbers, and its last hurrah in the fall, along with details of weather and plant life.

Case Western Reserve University biologist Sarah Diamond says no other data set in the county is as complete and covers such a wide area. 

“We really don’t have these data available to us in any other place,” according to Diamond.

 

Ohio data reveals surprising outcomes

Diamond and colleagues in North Carolina dove into the unique collection of data from Ohio to study how the combination of climate change and urbanization is affecting 20 common butterfly species.

Previous studies looking only at climate change have shown that warmer temperatures mean earlier emergence of butterflies in the spring.

But Diamond found something very different coming from the Ohio data set. She says, instead of coming out earlier as expected, "species are actually coming out later now.”

Nine of the 20 butterfly species are being spotted later than normal.  Researchers believe this is due to a physiological stress that the organisms are experiencing.

Diamond says that stress is coming from increased urbanization - defined as the growing percentage of paved surfaces surrounding each study area.

Sprawling suburbs fragment butterfly habitats.
These 'urban islands' of asphalt are hotter than the surrounding environs, and this is having a negative effect on butterflies.

Diamond says a little bit of heat is a good thing, because a butterfly's range tends to limited by average temperatures in a particular region. But, she says, "you push them too far if you add the heat from climate change and urbanization.”

Diamond says butterflies are a valuable indicator species that reflect climate and habitat changes sooner than some other animals and plants.

She says most butterflies rely on an ideal temperature range to grow as caterpillars and emerge as butterflies. 

The combined effects of too much heat and habitat loss can drain the butterfly’s internal resources, delay their emergence, and shorten their already short lives.

The results ring true to Wiedmann. He agrees that warmer isn’t necessarily better, because "warmer at the wrong time of the year may be detrimental and retard them.”

If trends continue, Cleveland, by the end of this century, is likely to have the same climate as Cincinnati.

In fact measuring what’s going on in southern Ohio is like looking into our region’s future.

Wiedmann says his butterfly spotters will likely see those changes, and that they are going to, "rearrange where particular butterflies are.”

Ohio has already lost several types of butterflies since the surveys began in the mid 1990’s.

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Crisis looms in filling aviation industry jobs in Ohio and the nation
I listened to this story yesterday morning on the radio and just want to add this comment. My son went to school to train as an air traffic controller, and gra...

Cuyahoga Valley National Park considers fire to fight invasives
I'm for the controlled burn. There are not enough people (myself included) who volunteer for the removal of invasive plant species. Therefore, another solution ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University