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Old 08-06-2009, 06:48 PM   #1
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Watchers track butterflies for environment signs

Watchers track butterflies for environment signs
By Greg Bluestein
- Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009

Watchers track butterflies for environment signs | Penn State News | Health & Science - Centre Daily Times
excerpt from above:
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It's butterfly counting time at a central Georgia wildlife refuge. That means a sweaty but fun outing for these two men, one a retired entomologist, the other the abbot of a Roman Catholic monastery. But it has a serious side: Some researchers worry butterfly populations may be in decline, possibly signaling a worsening environment.

The flying insects are often viewed as canaries in a coal mine because they are sensitive to changes in their habitats.

"When you see the absence of butterflies, you know something is wrong," says Jerry Payne, the entomologist on the recent counting expedition to Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, about 70 miles south of Atlanta. Payne has tracked butterfly habitats for years.

"Unfortunately, we have met the enemy - and he is us," Payne says. "Man is the biggest reason for declining butterfly populations. We're taking away their land."
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