Wildfires Could Lead To The Extinction Of Moths

A couple of days ago, an international team of researchers published a paper in the journal Functional Ecology. They studied the aftermath of a massive wildfire in Portugal and how it affected the local flora and fauna.

According to previous studies, wildfires can cause wildflowers to produce more pollen, which is beneficial for day-time pollinators, like bees and butterflies. However, the latest study shows hos night-time moths, which are also pollinators, are not attracted by this event. The experts say that 70% of the moths in Portugal were transporting pollen, but in spring over 95% of moths were doing it.

Even more, moths transported a smaller amount of pollen, compared to day-time pollinators. The findings suggest that wildfires could lead to the disruption of night-time pollination and increase the risk of extinction for moths, especially since moth communities found at the burned sites are smaller, suggesting that the hostile environments do not provide them the elements needed to breed.

Wildfires Could Lead To The Extinction Of Moths

Dr. Callum Macgregor from the Department of Biology, University of York, the lead author of the paper, said: “Day-time pollinators, such as bees, have previously been shown to respond positively to the post-fire increase in resources of pollen and nectar, but it was not known whether night-flying pollinators, such as moths, benefit in the same way.

By comparing sites within the burned area to unburned sites nearby, we found that after the fire, flowers were more abundant and represented more species, which was mainly due to increases of flowers in winter and spring. By contrast, we found that moths were much less abundant and less rich after the fire, across all seasons.”

The other experts involved in the research also said that they analyzed the interaction between the moths and plants, and determined that species extinction is a major threat.

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About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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