Measuring the climate disturbance with butterflies

Endless winter, storms and drought are visible signs of climate change. But in Catalonia, butterflies are used to try to measure the long-term effects. Park Aiguamolls Emporda station is pioneer in the use of butterflies to measure climate change.

Aiguamolls d'Emporda

Record rainfall in March 2013 in Catalonia

Record rainfall dating back more than 40 years fell on the Costa Brava.
As noted by the Meteorological Service of Catalonia, March was a month of rain in 2013: multiplication of fronts during the first twenty days of the month, Atlantic disturbances associated with the flow of moist south have had a significant impact on Catalan rainfall.
In some places it has up to 25 days of rain for the month, particularly in the high mountain areas, while most of the territory were recorded between 10 and 20 days of rain, twice normal for a month March. Not forgetting of course, the storm earlier this month on the Costa Brava, with waves up to 6 meters in l’Estartit. Consequence of climate change?

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In any case, scientists try to measure this disorder with sensors sometimes surprising..

Butterflies, winged sensors of climate change

One of the best methods to study the effects of climate change on natural ecosystems requires no expensive technology, but only the eyes of an observer who watches the flight of a butterfly. Their short life cycles, their sensitivity to habitat changes and temperature, and the fascination of many naturalists, butterflies are excellent bioindicators to study the impact of biodiversity changes, such as global changes in climate or land use.
In Europe, nineteen measurement plans and monitoring butterflies are based on common standardized methodologies. This work began in the UK in 1976 and arrived in Catalonia in 1994. The first measurement station was the marshes of the Empordà (Girona).

The methodology is the study of sections of a mile, the volunteer should go once a week from March to September, counting butterflies you see around you.
At present, monitoring plans have implemented two indicators of population status at the European level, one on the decline of grassland butterflies (-50% since 1990) – and another on the effects of climate change.
The curator of the Sierra Nevada National Park, Ignacio Henares Henares said that, as is the case in Catalonia, « climate change is a driving force that accelerates or multiplying effects on the distribution of habitat, but the change in land use has an even greater impact.  »

Aiguamolls d'Emporda

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