Red alert for loss of butterflies in Europe

19:06, March 17, 2010      

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An alarm has been raised by European Red List to take urgent action for threatened butterflies, beetles and dragonflies in Europe.

Nearly a third of Europe's 435 butterfly species have declining populations and 9 percent are already threatened with extinction, according to the list, which was funded by the European Commission.

Among them, the Madeiran Large White Butterfly and Macedonian Grayling Butterfly are critically endangered because of their reduced habitat caused by quarrying activities.

Not only butterflies but also saphroxylic beetles and dragonflies are at risk.

Saproxylic beetles depend on decaying wood and play an essential role in recycling nutrients. Almost 11 percent of the 431 species assessed are at risk of being lost from the region, and 7 percent of them are globally threatened with extinction. A further 13 percent are listed as nearly threatened.

The main long-term threats to these beetles are habitat loss due to logging and the decline in the number of mature trees.

Dragonflies occur in Europe, with the highest numbers in southern France. Fourteen percent of the 130 dragonfly species assessed are now at risk and five of these are threatened with global extinction. A further 11 percent are considered nearly threatened within Europe.

Increasingly hot and dry summers combined with intensified water extraction for drinking and irrigation is causing the dragonflies' wetland habitats to dry up.

Scientists warned the extinction of these species will implicate the future of Europe's ecosystems.

"Butterflies play a hugely pivotal role as pollinators in the ecosystems in which they live," says director of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Biodiversity Conservation Group, Jane Smart.

European Red List, funded by the commission, is designed to identify those species that are threatened with extinction at the European level, so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.

Source: Xinhua
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