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‘Moth motorways could help to resist climate change impact
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‘Moth motorways could help to resist climate change impact

'Moth motorways' could help resist climate change impact


'Moth motorways' could help resist climate change impact
Rosy Footman moth, discovered in woodland. Credit: Patrick Clement

The U.K. could assist moths that are struggling to migrate north to adapt climate change by identifying areas where habitat restoration may be possible to make their journey easier.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool and Rothamsted Research, Butterfly Conservation, and the University of Reading have combined real data collected by volunteers with computer simulations to help predict the movement of moth species in changing climates.

These predictions showed that farmland and suburban moths were crucial for pollination and food for birds and bats. It helped scientists identify , such rugged hills, that seemed slow their movements.

Dr. Jenny Hodgson from the University of Liverpool is the lead author. She stated: “These new computer modeling will help us target habitat restoration at the most effective locations to help species adapt climate change by shifting the ranges across the nation.

Professor Tom Oliver, an ecologist at the University of Reading, was a co-author of this study. He said: “Previous research shows how severe fragmentation of habitats within our U.K. landscapes is preventing species from shifting their ranges in response climate warming. To help species adapt to climate changes, we urgently require habitat restoration.

“Using predictions like these would allow us to create moth motorways that help endangered moth species reach new, better places more quickly in our bid to survive.”

There is concern that the U.K. wildlife may not be able to track climate change because of habitat scarcity or lack thereof. However, there has not been enough data to predict how species will move across landscapes as a result of climate change.

The research was published in the journal today (20 May). Global Change BiologyIt was revealed that moth species found in suburban habitats and farmland were only moving northwards within some British landscapes, placing them at greater risk.

The team discovered that landscapes with hills and varying temperatures act as bottlenecks, slowing down the movement of suburban moths and farmland. This may be due to hills providing a barrier between farmland and suburban moths. to dispersal, or that higher ground areas have fewer nectar sources, hedgerows, and larval food plants.

Data on the movement of 54 southerly-distributed The Rothamsted Research Light Trap Network and the National Moth Recording Scheme were used to collect species from 1985 onwards. These data were used to test the results of computer-modeled data.

Rothamsted Research entomologist Dr. Chris Shortall was co-author of the study. He said that “the restricted expansion by farmland moths surprised and shows it is not safe for us to assume that such relatively tolerant organisms face no geographical barriers to their range expansion.” There are ways to adapt farming practices so that species can move more easily through these landscapes.

Dr. Zoë Randle, the Senior Survey’s Officer at Butterfly Conservation and a co-author on the study, said: “The findings from this work have great potential to maximize the impact of conservation action, Tree planting and restoration can be achieved by focusing on the right areas for these environmental enhancements. We are currently in a climate and biodiversity crisis. The findings of this research can make a real difference in helping moths and other insects. These communities are undergoing range expansion as a result of .”

Climate change could pit species against each other as they shift their ranges.

More information:
Jenny A. Hodgson and others, Where and Why are species’ range shifts hindered by unsuitable landscapes Global Change Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.16220

“Moth motorways” could help mitigate climate change impacts (2022, May 20,)
Retrieved on May 20, 2022

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