Winged emissaries

flower-butterflyButterflies play a recurring role in my climate change research. As cold-blooded creatures, butterflies are strongly influenced by climate and weather. Changes in climate also affect the plants that butterflies rely on for food and nectar. These features make them useful study creatures.

But why should you care about butterflies?

It’s not just because some of them are endangered species. Or that federal agencies are required by law to do everything they can to keep them from going extinct. Or that insects make the world go round, and butterflies are perhaps the loveliest of all the insects.

The bigger reason is that we live on this planet with other living things. With every insect or plant or mammal that goes extinct, we are reducing the richness of life on earth. We have a duty to nature and to ourselves to keep climate change from eroding the fabric of life.

In my lab, we often use butterflies to understand how changes to the environment affect living things and discover strategies for preserving and protecting life itself.