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A British butterfly thrives once again with climate change

The brown argus butterfly has increased its range northward by 50 miles over the last 20 years as climate change has given it a more expansive diet.

ButterflyEnlarge
Climate change has helped a rare British butterfly, the Northern Brown Argus, to expand its reach. (Wikimedia/Wikimedia commons)

A rare British butterfly may be one of the only winners in a warming world.

The brown argus butterfly has increased its range northward by 50 miles over the last 20 years as as warmer summers have meant more ample plant food sources, said a new study.

Indeed, once resigned to a very particular area in Britain, the butterfly is now thriving due to new plant food opportunities that keep the butterfly moving further north where the plants grow for longer periods.

"Ecological and evolutionary adjustments by the butterfly, interacting with alternative host plants that differ in their niches and life-history traits, have resulted in rapid range expansion of this previously rare and declining butterfly," says the study, reported the Guardian

"We suggest that altered interactions among species do not necessarily constrain distribution changes but can facilitate expansions."

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According to Time, scientists from York University in the UK analyzed data collected from amateur lepidopterist - butterfly enthusiasts - who track the movements and sightings of the insects.

The sightings were gathered over four decades, said the New York Times.

 The butterfly is named after the 100-eyed giant from Greek mythology as it has eye-like dots under its wings.

The study was published in Science.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120525/british-butterfly-thrives-once-again-climate-change