Diversity of butterflies in Europe is dwindling
Of Europe's 576 butterfly species, 71 are now endangered and almost every European country is affected, report biologists from Great Britain, France and the Netherlands led by Chris van Swaay from the conservation organization Dutch Butterfly Conservation.
Since 1980, the scientists had collected information about the occurrence of insects in 45 European countries. In those 25 years, 11 percent of the species have disappeared. While the generalists among the butterflies are only slightly endangered with a one percent decline, the meadow specialists are fighting for survival: the researchers were unable to find almost a fifth of these species in 2005. In wetlands and forests, species numbers fell by about 15 percent each. Compared to birds, however, butterflies fare somewhat better: the diversity of meadow birds decreased by 1.5 percent annually, while butterflies lost "only" 0.8 percent.
Researchers complain that the areas where butterflies roam are gradually being lost and see this as the main reason for the loss of biodiversity. It is primarily habitats created or influenced by humans, such as meadows or heathland, where the animals find their food. Above all, the decline in wet meadows, which were often drained for agriculture, is noticeable.