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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Climate change brings butterflies
The gatekeeper butterfly - (image courtesy of Butterfly Conservation)
The gatekeeper is being attracted by warmer and drier conditions
Two new species of butterfly are being attracted to Scotland because of climate change, an expert has said.

Paul Kirkland, of Butterfly Conservation, said warmer conditions would see the small skipper and the gatekeeper arrive within two years.

He said butterflies were among the first species to show signs of the effects of climate change.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said conservation plans would have to be adapted to cope with warmer conditions.

Mr Kirkland said while two new species of butterfly were expected in Scotland, others were under threat as the country became warmer.

We are expecting the small skipper and the gatekeeper to arrive very soon
Paul Kirkland
Butterfly Conservation

"The extensive landscapes of natural habitats in Scotland have allowed several species, including the orange-tip, peacock, ringlet and comma to take advantage of the warm years and move north," he said.

"We are expecting the small skipper and the gatekeeper to arrive very soon."

Mr Kirkland said northern species of butterfly, in contrast, were under threat from the drier and warmer conditions.

"New research shows that the range of the mountain ringlet has retracted uphill, while the range of the scotch argus and northern brown argus have retracted downwards," he said.

Habitat loss

"These sorts of changes are not so evident in England and Wales, as the massive loss of habitat has meant that butterflies are finding it difficult or impossible to move through a landscape that is predominantly hostile and has masked changes due to climate."

Mr Kirkland discussed the challenges posed by climate change as he launched his book, Butterflies, published jointly by SNH and Butterfly Conservation.

The book identifies climate change, habitat loss and isolation of habitat as the three main threats to butterflies.

Professor Colin Galbraith, director of scientific and advisory services at SNH, said studying butterflies would give clues to the rate of change in the natural world caused by climate change.




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SEE ALSO
UK butterfly species down to 56
22 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature
UK butterflies: 'Glimmer of hope'
16 May 06 |  Science/Nature

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