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Old 12-12-2010, 02:38 PM   #1
The Bug Whisperer
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Monroe County, WV, USA
Default Grassland Butterflies Plummet Across Europe

From an entomology listserve:

"Butterflies normally found on grassland are in steep decline across
Europe, pointing to a huge loss of European biodiversity.

This is the conclusion of a new study by Butterfly Conservation Europe
based on data from 3,000 sites in 15 countries.

The Grassland Butterfly Indicator shows that the populations of 17
butterfly species have declined by over 70% in the last 20 years.
Butterflies are sensitive environmental indicators; alerting us to
underlying problems with the environment. Grasslands are a vital habitat
for European wildlife and support a huge range of plants and insects. If
butterfly numbers are falling, inevitably other wildlife is also in

The losses are thought to have been caused by rapidly changing
agricultural practices in Europe's diverse semi-natural grasslands. Such
grasslands have been created by traditional livestock grazing and
hay-making over centuries of human occupation since the last ice-age.
This management creates a wonderfully flower-rich breeding habitat for
butterflies and many other insects. However, in recent decades these
traditional grasslands have deteriorated, meaning loss due to
agricultural intensification in some regions and abandonment in others.

The underlying forces behind the losses are rapid economic and social
changes, which have led to the intensification of better land and the
abandonment of land with poorer soils and in remote locations.
Abandonment is thought to be the most serious cause of losses in
mountain regions and eastern Europe, while lowland areas have suffered
most from intensification.

Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive at Butterfly Conservation (UK), said:
"The results show the dramatic and continuing loss of biodiversity in
European grasslands. We urgently need a change in EU agricultural policy
that favours High Nature Value farming rather than over-intensification
as at present. The results would be better for the environment and
better from rural communities who are struggling to survive under the
current system of support which favours larger more intensive producers."

Butterflies are one of the best monitored groups of wildlife in Europe
and Butterfly Conservation Europe is pressing for them to be adopted as
agricultural indicators in the next round of Common Agricultural Policy
reform in 2013."
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

Henry Ward Beecher
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:00 PM   #2
A Bee's Best Friend
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA

Every change has unforeseen consequences.
"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson

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Old 01-05-2011, 02:51 PM   #3
A Bee's Best Friend
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA

Seems getting the most acreage planted in crop is not always the best plan.
Small farmers with their living quarters right on the acreage doing what it takes to feed the family as well as grow cash crops (as opposed to big business) seems to be a better suited to sustainablity and diversity.

However, biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is obviously affected by many factors other than the farming system.
Non-cropped areas, such as field margins, edge zones, habitat islands, hedgerows, natural pastures, wetlands, ditches, ponds and other small habitats, are important refuges and source areas for many organisms.
Maintenance of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes will depend on the preservation, restoration and management of such habitats (Stopeset al. 1995; Baudryet al)http://bie.berkeley.edu/files/bengston05.pdf
"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson

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