Monday 20 August 2012

Uttarakhand needs to research its Butterflies too

Written by Anil Singh

It's often said that Uttarakhand is the barometer of "North India Ecosystem". But are we doing adequate research to safeguard Uttarakhand's biodiversity and fragile ecosystem?

If scientists in India and Uttarakhand are actually adequately researching the subject; then Uttarakhand should also have adequate data on the number, species and movement of its Butterflies.

If I'm not wrong: Population of Butterflies and distinctness & varieties of their species, are the indicators of the Health of an forest ecosystem. If a city sees an increase in its butterflies, then it means people are giving spaces to gardens in their terraces and courtyards.

[Any Researcher can contradict me, if he finds my assertion wrong or partially correct]

But, I assume Indian Researchers are not doing that much research in the Area of butterflies. I'm aware of a gentleman in Dehradun, who quit his corporate job, to pursue his passion for Bird and butterfly watching; but I'm not aware of anyone else.

That said; A Harvard study (in USA) shows southern butterfly species growing in Mass.
The Researchers who have devoted their lives to the study of such creatures, are elated by spotting a western tiger swallowtail butterfly on an azalea blossom on Southampton Road in Holyoke. Details are Below:

Historic butterfly communities in Massachusetts are dwindling and being rapidly replaced by their southern relatives, according to a Harvard study released Sunday.
The study outlines the growth and decline of butterfly species in Massachusetts during the past two decades. During this time, the study found that warm-climate-adapted butterfly species have grown by an estimated 1,000 percent, while cold-climate-adapted species, which have long been native to the Bay State, have declined — some by up to 90 percent.
The study was conducted by Harvard Forest, an environmental research department of Harvard University, to examine the effect of climate change on butterfly communities in the state. It relies on data collected during the past two decades by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, an amateur naturalist group that tracks butterfly populations.
Seventeen of the 21 northern butterfly species in Massachusetts, including the Atlantis Fritillary and the Acadian Hairstreak, were found to be in population decline, according to the study. These cold-climate species also were more prevalent in high-altitude regions of the state, like the Berkshire mountains and the Worcester Plateau, where scientists believe cooler microclimates exist.
Meanwhile, the study found that 12 southern butterfly species, which were rare or unseen in the state during the 1980s and 1990s, have increased tremendously, specifically in the warmest areas of the state: the Pioneer Valley and southeastern Massachusetts. The species include the Zaboulan Skipper and Giant Swallowtail.
The study does not track butterfly populations outside the state, so it does not account for whether cold-climate species have moved north.
Researchers say the butterflies most impacted by the decline are those that wait out the winter as eggs or small larvae and are more sensitive to a lack of snow cover or drought. Another reason for the growth and decline of these populations, they say, can be attributed to the fact that some of the southern species are protected by Massachusetts — because of their rare, threatened or endangered status in the state — while northern species do not.

What useful inferences are derived by the Researchers:

The Study lead author, Greg Breed, said that the habitat protection may not be enough to combat the perceived impact climate change is having on the species. As for most butterfly species, climate change seems to be a stronger change-agent than habitat loss. According to experts, long-term monitoring data, on butterfly populations in the state, sheds more light on the subject.

Any doing similar Research in Uttarakhand?

Pl feel free to contact us at the email given on the website homepage.


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