Leona’s little blue butterfly one step closer to protection

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines that a Klamath County, Oregon butterfly may be threatened with extinction and initiates a status review

For immediate release:
August 17, 2011
Contact: Sarina Jepsen, Director, Endangered Species Program, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; 503-232-6639 ext. 112, sarina@xerces.org

PORTLAND, Ore. — In response to a petition from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized today that Leona’s little blue butterfly may qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

There is only one population of Leona’s little blue butterfly — found in the Antelope Desert in Klamath County, Oregon — known to exist in the world. This highly endemic species occupies a specialized niche on private timberland and a small part of the Winema National Forest.

“With only 2,000 individuals of this species remaining worldwide, a single event — such as a wildfire — could lead Leona’s little blue to extinction,” said Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director of the Xerces Society. “Protection under the Endangered Species Act will provide a crucial safety net for this iconic species.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service affirmed in today’s finding that this small butterfly is threatened by catastrophic wildfire and encroaching conifers. The Service recognized that Leona’s little blue butterfly is inherently more vulnerable to stochastic events because of the small size of its population. Today’s finding triggers a twelve-month status review by Fish and Wildlife Service biologists; the result of that status review will be a decision whether or not to list the butterfly as an endangered species.

“Leona’s little blue butterfly can be considered an indicator of the health of the Antelope desert,” said Ani Kame’enui of Oregon Wild, a co-petitioner. “This butterfly may be small, but by protecting its critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act, we will safeguard an essential piece of wild Oregon.”


 

The Xerces Society • 628 NE Broadway Ste 200, Portland OR 97232 USA • tel 855.232.6639 • fax 503.233.6794 • info@xerces.org
site mapcontactgivecontact the webmaster
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.