October 31, 2008

Bob, in from the field, surrounded by feminine pulchritude and a motherlode of Florida butterfly expertise: Kathy Malone, Jackie Miller, and Alana Edwards, at the Bonefish Restaurant in Gainesville.

Unknown jumping spider on Carphephorus corymbosus. Photo by Linda Cooper.

Jack Shaw, Buck Cooper, Kay Eoff, Bob Pyle and Lucie Bruce with their binoculars focused on the first Loammi Skipper (Atrytonopsis loammi). Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

Bob pointing to Loammi skipper. Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

Loammi skipper. Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

The following is an entry written by Linda Cooper, Osceola County, Florida

Monday, October 20

10:15 a.m
The assignment was simple enough – find Loammi Skipper (Florida Dusted Skipper) – a ‘must see’ for Bob Pyle in his search for butterflies in Florida. His goal is high. He is looking for as many butterflies in the U. S.

as he can see in one year and it is already mid-October. He is taking pledges per species to raise money for butterfly conservation for The Xerces Society. We promised to help him in his search for this skipper in our neck of the woods. In a serendipitous moment we find Lucie Bruce, a Houston, TX butterfly enthusiast, has arrived at Bull Creek. She is invited to join Bob, Jack Shaw and Kay Eoff, who have driven from Gainesville, and Buck and me for a full day of walking wildflower fields. An extra pair of eyes is a great thing. We are wondering if we will see any butterflies today. The fields of Liatris and Carphephorus are fading fast. What had been filled with butterflies just nine days ago were largely devoid of activity in the cool morning.

Stiff breezes make following butterfly flight difficult but as the morning warms they begin to settle on the purple blossoms. The sharp-eyed Gainesville guys find the first Loammi – and then another. Soon we all begin to find them. One even had mismatched ventral hind wings with white smiley-face pattern on one side but mostly unpatterned on the other. Bob only needs to see one Loammi and we end up with ten! As we move farther along West Loop Road we find fresher Liatris and Ccarphephorus fields. Assorted swallowtails dance on the purple blossoms. Bob finds a Dotted Skipper, rarely seen so far south in the peninsula.

4:30 p.m
We finish up by driving north on Cemetery Road through water-filled mud holes. At the end of the road we walk around the old cemetery, reading headstones and markers, shaking shrubs looking for White M Hairsteak. No luck with this one.

5:15 p.m
Time to depart to meet Akers Pence in Melbourne for a quick dinner before he and Bob head south to search for tropical species. We end the day with 31 species and 249 individuals: life butterflies for most and an opportunity to spend the day with new and old friends in a beautiful area of old Florida.

So many butterflies…
so little time!


 

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The Xerces Society » News

Bumblebees in severe and rapid decline from climate change — study

Malavika Vyawahare, ClimateWire

The heat is beginning to sting for bumblebees. As the Earth warms, they are being driven out of their habitats in North America and Europe, according to a new study published in Science.

“They have disappeared from places they used to be found,” said Jeremy Kerr, an ecologist and one of the lead authors of the paper. “If these species are losing range at the rate at which we are observing here, that cannot go on for long before many of these species go extinct.”

By studying the distribution of 67 bumblebee species on the two continents over a 110-year period the authors concluded that human-induced climate change was a “significant cause of rapid declines in bumblebee populations.” The results are a grim reminder that not all species are adapting to climate change, experts said.

Warming temperatures are forcing bumblebees to retreat from the southern boundaries of their range while being unable to settle in regions farther north, the research found, effectively trapping them in what the authors called a “climate vise.”

Read more at EENews.net.


A ‘Climate Vise’ is Squeezing Bumble Bees’ Range

Brian Kahn, Climate Central

If you’ve hiked through a meadow in bloom in Europe or North America, you’ve probably heard the buzz and seen the lazy meanderings of bumble bees from flower to flower. Yet what was once a common sight on the southern end of their range is becoming rare or nonexistent.

According to new research published in the journal Science, climate change could be intimately tied with the plight of the prolific pollinator. But unlike other species that are shifting northward in response to warming temperatures, the majority of bumble bees species included in the new study are failing to expand their range. Because they can occupy a niche as early and late season pollinators, farmers, forests and flowers could all suffer from their disappearance.

“They’ve run up against a wall,” Jeremy Kerr, a biologist at the University of Ottawa, said. “They just aren’t colonizing new areas and finding new locations. Bumblebees are caught in a climate vise.”

Kerr led the new research, which analyzed a massive dataset of 423,000 observations of bumble bees across North America and Europe stretching back to the start of the 20th century. The results show that despite 4.5°F of warming that has made the northern end of their range more habitable, bees are failing to follow the heat even as they are disappearing on the southern fringes at an alarming clip.

Read more at ClimateCentral.org


Bumblebees being crushed by climate change

Cally Carswell, ScienceMag.org

As the climate changes, plants and animals are on the move. So far, many are redistributing in a similar pattern: As habitat that was once too cold warms up, species are expanding their ranges toward the poles, whereas boundaries closer to the equator have remained more static.

Bumblebees, however, appear to be a disturbing exception, according to a study in Science today. A comprehensive look at dozens of species, it finds that many North American and European bumblebees are failing to “track” warming by colonizing new habitats north of their historic range. Simultaneously, they are disappearing from the southern portions of their range.

“Climate change is crushing [bumblebee] species in a vice,” says ecologist Jeremy Kerr of the University of Ottawa in Canada, the study’s lead author. The findings underscore the importance of conserving the habitat the insects currently persist in, says Rich Hatfield, a biologist with the Xerces Society for Insect Conservation in Portland, Oregon, who was not involved in the study. Where bumblebees vanish, the wild plants and crops they pollinate could also suffer.

Read more at ScienceMag.org.