Varied Landscapes Help Insect Conservation

YORK, England, Feb. 16 (UPI) — British researchers say they’ve demonstrated rugged, hilly landscapes with diverse habitat types lead to more stable butterfly populations.

Scientists from the Center for Ecology & Hydrology, Butterfly Conservation and the University of York said they used satellite images to identify topography and habitat diversity of various sites. They said they analyzed population data of 35 British butterfly species during an 11-year period. The population data had been collected by volunteers of the U.K. Butterfly Monitoring Scheme from 166 sites.

Researchers said their data showed sites with varied terrain and more diverse habitats, such as a site that had both woodland and grassland areas, tended to have more stable butterfly populations.

“More stable insect populations are better for conservation,” said lead study author Tom Oliver. “Our research shows that populations of species such as the Brown Argus and Dingy Skipper butterfly are more stable when they are located in hilly landscapes with a range of habitat types.”

The scientists say their findings could help communities design landscapes that promote the conservation of insect species.

The research appears in the journal Ecology Letters.

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