early bird butterflies

As Melbourne warms, the city’s butterflies are emerging at least 10 days earlier in spring than they did in 1945, according to research that reveals for the first time a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, the city’s warming environment and the timing of a natural event.

Using emergence data on the common brown butterfly dating back 65 years, researchers from Melbourne University said the findings were unequivocal.

“There’s very little room to doubt that now,” said lead author Michael Kearney, of the zoology department. “Animals are doing things earlier because the climate is warming, because of human activity.”

The Age, 18 Mar 2010