Habitat loss wiping out Europe's butterflies

March 16, 2010
An owl butterfly sits on a plant in the biggest butterfly farm in Europe in Trassenheide on the Baltic Sea island Usedom, north-east Germany, in 2009. The destruction of natural habitats in Europe is wiping out butterfly, beetle and dragonfly species across the region, the updated European "Red List" of endangered species has showed.

The destruction of natural habitats in Europe is wiping out butterfly, beetle and dragonfly species across the region, the updated European "Red List" of endangered species showed Tuesday.

"When a like this raises the alarm, the implications for our own future are clear. This is a worrying decline," said EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik.

Scientists examining Europe's 435 butterfly species found that the populations of one in three species are falling and nine percent are already threatened with extinction.

"Most butterflies at risk are confined to southern Europe," said Annabelle Cuttelod, coordinator of the European Red List at the International Union for the of Nature (IUCN).

"Their main threat is habitat loss, most often caused by changes in agricultural practices, either through intensification or abandonment, or to , and the expansion of tourism."

Likewise, logging has led to a decline in the populations of some beetles species that are depend on decaying wood. Known as saproxylic beetles, they play an important role in ecosystems by recycling nutrients.

Some 11 percent or 46 species of them are at risk of being lost from the region, while seven percent are threatened with extinction worldwide.

"The main long-term threats to saproxylic beetles are due to logging and the decline in the number of mature trees," said the IUCN.

For dragonflies, it is the depletion of freshwater resources that is causing these species to drop in numbers.

Five percent of dragonfly species are threatened with , while some 11 percent are considered to be near threatened within Europe.

"Increasingly hot and dry summers combined with intensified water extraction for drinking and irrigation are causing the dragonflies' wetland habitats to dry up," said the IUCN.

The list including some 6,000 European species is part of the IUCN's overall Red List, which is the most respected inventory of biodiversity covering more than 47,000 of the world's species.

Explore further: Extinction alert issued for 800 species

Related Stories

Extinction alert issued for 800 species

December 13, 2005

Conservation and environmental groups have compiled a list of nearly 800 species they say face imminent extinction. Most of the threatened species are found mainly in tropical areas, the BBC reported Tuesday.

One in six Mediterranean mammals face extinction

September 15, 2009

One in six Mediterranean mammals is threatened with extinction at the regional level, mainly due to the destruction of their habitat from urbanization, agriculture and climate change, nature body IUCN said Tuesday in a new ...

Over 17,000 species threatened by extinction

November 2, 2009

(AP) -- A rare Panamanian tree frog, a rodent from Madagascar and two lizards found only in the Philippines are among over 17,000 species threatened with extinction, a leading environmental group said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

Studies reveal details of error correction in cell division

July 29, 2015

Cell biologists led by Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with collaborators elsewhere, report an advance in understanding the workings of an error correction mechanism that helps cells detect and ...

Researchers discover new type of mycovirus

July 29, 2015

Researchers, led by Dr Robert Coutts, Leverhulme Research Fellow from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Research Associate at Imperial College, have discovered ...

Stressed out plants send animal-like signals

July 29, 2015

University of Adelaide research has shown for the first time that, despite not having a nervous system, plants use signals normally associated with animals when they encounter stress.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.