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31 October, 2019

Climate change impact on butterflies revealed

Climate change impact on butterflies revealed: Orange-tip butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

Butterfly populations remain stable in Scotland but climate change is having a variable impact on different species.

The latest Scottish Biodiversity Indicator published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) examines the long-term trend for butterflies since 1979.

The warming summer climate has pushed the distribution of some species northwards, but this has been balanced out by the negative effects of warmer and wetter winters and poor land management practices in some habitats.

Populations of orange-tip, small heath, ringlet, small pearl-bordered fritillary and red admiral butterflies have all experienced significant increases.

Meanwhile there have been decreases in the numbers of grayling, small tortoiseshell and small copper butterflies.

Habitat loss, climate change, urban development and increased nitrogen deposition have all been linked to declines.

Recent research has shown that milder wetter winters in particular are having a negative impact on some species including the small tortoiseshell.

Simon Foster, SNH Trends and Indicators Analyst, said: “While butterfly populations in Scotland have remained stable overall, a closer look at the data reveals that climate change is impacting differently on different species.

“While the range of some established or expanding butterfly populations has been pushed northwards as a result of warming summers, other species are struggling to cope.

“We know that nature-based solutions are crucial to helping us tackle the climate emergency, and together with partners we are working on a range of projects to help pollinators such as butterflies.

“Members of the public can also do their bit – for example planting butterfly-friendly native plants can help populations locally, and leaving nettles alone will ensure an essential food plant for small tortoiseshells. Providing a nice dry area such as a log pile or an old shed left partly open can also provide essential overwintering conditions for small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies.”

Another way to help is to get involved in counting butterflies locally through initiatives such as Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count: https://www.bigbutterflycount.org/

ENDS

For more information or interviews, contact the SNH press office on snhmedia@nature.scot or 0131 316 2655.

Contact information

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SNH Media
Email
SNHMEDIA@nature.scot

Notes to editors

Read the full Scottish Biodiversity Indicator - Butterflies.

The indicator is a multi-species index compiled by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology &  Hydrology, using data primarily from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS)

Through the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland, SNH is taking action to create and improve habitat for pollinators, provide courses to help volunteers identify and record species, encourage developers to include habitats for pollinators in their projects, provide guidance and advice for land managers and support robust and improved monitoring and surveying.

SNH is also raising awareness of the importance of pollinators more widely, through steps such as promoting wildlife friendly gardening, supporting community action through initiatives such as the Keep Scotland Beautiful pollinator-friendly award and managing our own National Nature Reserves to create pollinator-friendly habitats.

 

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig www.nature.scot/gaelic no lean air Twitter sinn aig https://twitter.com/nature_scot

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Orange-tip butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

Orange-tip butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

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Small tortoiseshell butterfly ©Lorne Gill

Small tortoiseshell butterfly ©Lorne Gill

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Small pearl-bordered fritillary ©Lorne Gill SNH

Small pearl-bordered fritillary ©Lorne Gill SNH

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Small heath butterfly © Lorne Gill SNH

Small heath butterfly © Lorne Gill SNH

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Small copper butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

Small copper butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

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Red admiral butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

Red admiral butterfly ©Lorne Gill SNH

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