Climate Change

Biologists in Ecuador's Amazon Struggle to Save Threatened Butterflies

Main image to the post Biologists in Ecuador's Amazon Struggle to Save Threatened Butterflies

Biologists and park rangers in the Ecuadorean Amazon are employing innovative methods to track and safeguard butterflies, essential pollinators facing increasing threats from climate change. Using traps baited with foul-smelling delicacies like rotting fish and fermented bananas, the team aims to monitor butterfly populations in the biodiverse Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, known for its rich array of flora and fauna. Despite efforts to identify and release most captured butterflies with unique markings, the team has observed a concerning decrease in butterfly numbers, with some estimates suggesting a significant decline of around 40 to 50%.

Butterflies play a crucial role as bioindicators, reflecting the overall health of their surrounding ecosystem, making their decreasing numbers a cause for alarm among biologists like Maria Fernanda Checa. The expedition in Cuyabeno, led by Elisa Levy, involves delicate handling of the captured insects, which exhibit diverse colors and patterns, underscoring their importance as vital pollinators for many fruit and seed-producing crops essential to human consumption. However, the alarming global trend of invertebrate pollinators, including bees and butterflies, facing the risk of extinction, as highlighted by the U.N., poses significant threats not only to biodiversity but also to humanity itself.

Ecuador, with its remarkable biodiversity and approximately 4,000 butterfly species, is witnessing the impact of climate change on its delicate ecosystems, notably in regions like Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno. Biologists like Checa emphasize the urgency of addressing the decline in butterfly populations, as these insects are highly sensitive to ecosystem changes that could have far-reaching consequences for both plants and animals in the Amazon rainforest. The intricate relationship between butterflies, plants, and climate variations underscores the pressing need to protect these crucial pollinators and their habitats before irreversible damage occurs.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09