Climate Craziness of the Week: Oh noes! Moths affected by 'hidden' factors of climate change

From the University of Michigan  and the department of Mothra studies, comes this big let down. Even though moths are supposedly affected by climate change, “90 percent of them were either stable or increasing” while the climate where they lived warmed. But wait! Moth scientists know there MUST be an effect, so in contradiction to their observations, the moth scientists claim the climate change effects are now apparently “hidden”. Hopefully, those moths thriving under global warming doesn’t lead to giant moths.

Mothra - courtesy Wikizilla

Mothra – also fictitious, like “hidden” climate effects, courtesy Wikizilla

Moth study suggests hidden climate change impacts

ANN ARBOR—A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view.

The study analyzed populations of 80 moth species and found that 90 percent of them were either stable or increasing throughout the study period, from 1978 to 2009. During that time, average annual temperatures at the study site rose 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter precipitation increased as well.

 

“You see it getting warmer, you see it getting wetter and you see that the moth populations are either staying the same or going up. So you might think, ‘Great. The moths like this warmer, wetter climate.’ But that’s not what’s happening,” said ecologist Mark Hunter of the University of Michigan.

Hunter used advanced statistical techniques to examine the roles of different ecological forces affecting the moth populations and found that warmer temperatures and increased precipitation reduced the rates of population growth.

“Every time the weather was particularly warm or particularly wet, it had a negative impact on the rates at which the populations grew,” said Hunter, the Henry A. Gleason Collegiate Professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

“Yet, overall, most of these moth populations are either stable or increasing, so the only possibility is that something else other than climate change—some other factor that we did not measure—is buffering the moths from substantial population reductions and masking the negative effects of climate change.”

The findings have implications that reach beyond moths in Lapland.

If unknown ecological forces are helping to counteract the harmful effects of climate change on these moths, it’s conceivable that a similar masking of impacts is happening elsewhere. If that’s the case, then scientists are likely underestimating the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants, Hunter said.

“We could be underestimating the number of species for which climate change has negative impacts because those effects are masked by other forces,” he said.

Hunter and six Finnish colleagues report their findings in a paper scheduled for online publication April 15 in the journal Global Change Biology.

The study was conducted at the Värriö Strict Nature Reserve, 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle and less than four miles from the Finnish-Russian border. The nearest major road is more than 60 miles away.

Between 1978 and 2009, Finnish scientists used light traps at night to catch 388,779 moths from 456 species. Eighty of the most abundant species were then analyzed.

Hunter used a statistical technique called time series analysis to examine how various ecological forces, including climate, affected per capita population growth.

Scientists want to know how climate change will impact insects because the six-legged creatures play key roles as agricultural pests, pollinators, food sources for vertebrates, vectors of human disease, and drivers of various ecosystem processes.

Researchers believe that butterflies and moths may be particularly susceptible to population fluctuations in response to climate change—especially at high latitudes and high elevations.

Most recent studies of moth abundance have shown population declines. So Hunter and his colleagues were surprised to find that 90 percent of the moth species in the Lapland study were either stable or increasing.

On one level, the results can be viewed as a good news climate story: In the face of a rapid environmental change, these moths appear to be thriving, suggesting that they are more resilient than scientists had expected, Hunter said.

But the other side of that coin is that unknown ecological forces appear to be buffering the harmful effects of climate change and hiding those impacts from view. The results also demonstrate that “simple temporal changes in population abundance cannot always be used to estimate effects of climate change on the dynamics of organisms,” the authors conclude.

“The big unknown is how long this buffering effect will last,” Hunter said. “Will it keep going indefinitely, or will the negative effects of climate change eventually just override these buffers, causing the moth populations to collapse?”

Another big unknown: What ecological forces are currently buffering the Lapland moths from the negative effects of a warming climate?

Finnish team members who’ve been collecting moths at the Värriö reserve for decades say they have noticed a gradual increase in tree and shrub density, increased rates of tree growth, and a rise in the altitude of the tree line.

Trees provide food and shelter for moths, and leaf litter offers overwintering sites and resting areas away from predators. Perhaps the observed vegetation changes are helping to offset the negative effects of warmer temperatures and increased precipitation. That possibility was not analyzed in the current study.

###

Hunter’s co-authors on the Global Change Biology paper are Finnish researchers Mikhail Kozlov, Juhani Itämies, Erkki Pulliainen, Jaana Bäck, Ella-Maria Kyrö and Pekka Niemelä.

The work was supported by a Strategic Research Grant from the University of Turku and the Nordic Centre of Excellence Tundra, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence and the Nordic Center of Excellence CRAICC.

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Graeme W

I would’ve thought it obvious. These moths are under the personal protection of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and as such will continue to thrive indefinitely….
Okay, I suppose it needs a /sarc tag, but really….

Let’s see, today is April 15. I’m gonna try telling the IRS that I actually paid twice as many taxes last year as they think I did, but that the extra amount was “hidden”. In fact, it was so sooper sekrit that no evidence at all can be found of it – that’s how good a job of hiding it I did.
They’ll give me a big refund based on that, right? Right?

Resourceguy

The hidden effect is tenure.

Richard Mallett

So the climate is warmer and wetter, which is good for trees and shrubs, which therefore is also good for moths, but ‘that possibility was not analysed’ – you could not make this up 🙂

You got theory and you got facts. When the facts don’t support the theory and you keep going, that’s science fiction. You should find a publisher for that novel of yours.

chemman

“unknown ecological forces”
Isn’t that sorta like say God did it?
They set out to prove increasing temperature and precipitation would be bad for the Moth communities and when that didn’t pan out they make claims to the “unknown'” for why it didn’t happen. Their original hypothesis just can’t be wrong.

Ed_B

“If unknown ecological forces are helping to counteract the harmful effects of climate change on these moths, it’s conceivable that a similar masking of impacts is happening elsewhere. If that’s the case, then scientists are likely underestimating the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants, Hunter said.”
Another treasure for my collection of circular arguments. Thanks Anthony.

JimS

Another extract from The Onion, no doubt.

jbutzi

“We could be underestimating the number of species for which climate change has negative impacts because those effects are masked by other forces,” he said.
Or you could be assuming something that is not happening at all. This is the equivalent of my little daughter being afraid of the boogy man under the bed or in the closet.
“Yet, overall, most of these moth populations are either stable or increasing, so the only possibility is that something else other than climate change—some other factor that we did not measure—is buffering the moths from substantial population reductions and masking the negative effects of climate change.”
Or maybe you could just admit that ‘stable or increasing’ is not evidence of some mystical/imaginary/measurable effect.

Richard Mallett

I think we can now officially declare CAGW a religion – then MM can probably claim tax relief on his legal expenses 🙂

bladeshearer

Look for the missing affects of climate change on Lapland moth populations in the ocean depths, along with Trenberth’s missing heat.

JimS

We just can’t find anything wrong from climate change at the higher latitudes. Species are thriving, tree lines are expanding further north. There is this factor that is making everything all roses. This just can not be good. I am going to lose my grant money doing all this research for 32 years. Help!

DMA

I thought a climate data point was the average weather for 30 years. He only has one data point to compare so far.

BritInMontreal

Looks like the warmer temperatures and increased precipitation are producing the gradual increase in tree and shrub density, increased rates of tree growth, and a rise in the altitude of the tree line, no? So this gives the moths food and shelter and leaf litter offers overwintering sites and resting areas away from predators. (sorry, I’m cutting and pasting from above).
So where are the negative effects of the increased warmth and precip. Looks to me as though the guys have got their logic back to front. Advanced statistical techniques? Modeling?

DirkH

“ANN ARBOR—A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view.”
For 32 years of work this bit of baseless drivel is quite the amazing research result.
My guess is they were sitting on their asses for 32 years downing Finnish vodka, paying for it with taxpayer money.

Nik

Unknown forces cited as a major factor in this study yet this paper made it past peer review. It helps to know where science stands these days.

Pete of Perth

“climate” in the journal’s title is also “hidden”.

Mohatdebos

Give them credit — at least they admitted they were unable to find any adverse impacts from climate change. I also found it amusing they claim to have used this powerful statistical tool — time series analysis, as if it was a novel application. Time series is used everyday to study statistical process in a variety of fields. Indeed, the failure to use simple statistical techniques is is a fundamental problem with much of the research in climate change.

Ronlad Hansen

Sigh… I had to press the BULL$***T button, again.

AleaJactaEst

and what perchance, did the average annual temperatures do from 2009 onwards? Enquiring minds want to know.

copernicus34

Hilarious, we don’t know what it is, but it must be climate change. LMFAO, the hits just keep on a comin’

Les Johnson

Finnish moth populations are stable or growing. Thus, AGW is negatively impacting population growth caused by some other UNKNOWN mechanism. Really? Really?
Team members also say that they see an increase in tree and shrub density, which may be the unknown forcing thats incresaing moth populations..
I would suspect that the warmer, wetter climate is causing the increase in trees, which in turn is causing the increase in moths. But seeing a positive will not get you more grants, will it?

DrTorch

It’s official, they’re publishing articles about magic.

jaffa68

You fools! This is the same effect as when the hidden heat from warming causes ‘instruments’ to register cooler temperatures – the cooler temps are even more proof of warming. You don’t get it because you’re not climate scientists.

Tamara

O M G
Somebody needs to put science out of its misery. Watching the death-throes is painful.

What’s most incredible in these junk science studies is the fact that, for some reason, climate warming is aways deadly, regardless of what things appear to be doing. Not that long ago a declining population growth was seen as goal (for humans), not something to be avoided,
especially when talking, you know, moths (pronounced as by Inspector Clouseau).
The bizarre belief that the current climate is the best climate is an example of environmental chauvinism or being a Dr Pangloss – the best of all possible worlds.

Bruce Cobb

I don’t know about the moths, but the climate myths they keep inventing sure are getting weirder.

LogosWrench

Climate change and conspiracy have one thing in common. As the complete lack of evidence is the surest sign the conspiracy is working, so too the complete lack of temp rise is the surest sign the globe is warming. The complete hidden effects to the moths is surest sign they are effected.

Kit Blanke

“Hunter used advanced statistical techniques to examine the roles of different ecological forces affecting the moth populations and found that warmer temperatures and increased precipitation reduced the rates of population growth.”
He tortured the data into giving the answer he wanted

Frodo

As a UM Grad (Engineering – Go Blue) this kills me. There is intelligence, and there is wisdom/common sense. For some, it seems, intelligence and common sense are inversely proportional.

What passes for science these days saddens me a little.

Latitude

These dimwits have no clue that colder and drier was killing them off…
…and warmer and wetter they are just doing better…recovering

Richard Mallett

This is like Groundhog Day, where every day is April 1st.

Dodgy Geezer

@wws:
Let’s see, today is April 15. I’m gonna try telling the IRS that I actually paid twice as many taxes last year as they think I did, but that the extra amount was “hidden”. In fact, it was so sooper sekrit that no evidence at all can be found of it – that’s how good a job of hiding it I did.
They’ll give me a big refund based on that, right? Right?

Er, no. You have hidden something on the Internet. That means they’ll send NSA around. You must be a Terrerist… See you in a basement floor in Fort Meade. Or Guantanamo…

Maybe the negative effects are hiding in the ocean.

Louis Hooffstetter

…team members… noticed a gradual increase in tree and shrub density, increased rates of tree growth, and a rise in the altitude of the tree line…
some other factor is… masking the negative effects of climate change…
Yes, that would be the benefits from increasing levels of CO2. In this case the link between correlation and causation is strongly supported by the empirical data.

Richard Mallett

You’re sounding too much like a scientist there Louis 🙂

“Hunter used advanced statistical techniques to examine the roles of different ecological forces affecting the moth populations and found that warmer temperatures and increased precipitation reduced the rates of population growth”
So increasing population of moths resulted in a decreased “rate” of growth. Seems to me, that is a pretty normal process. As a population of any group reaches equilibrium with its available resources, the population growth rate slows, stabilizes and declines. Much like the grade school explanation of bacteria doubling in a test tube. Actually a great example and the experimental confirmation is even more interesting with self-cannibalization in the absence of nutrients also used as portent of things to come. Seems like in some areas of science, critical mass has been achieved. /Winking turned off

lemiere jacques

science has becone the knowledge of the unknown…

Oh darn – that didn’t go well.

Vincent

A Third Force. It has to be a Third Force.

james

Just when I thought that it could not get any crazier the prove this denier wrong.

Greg Goodman

“On one level, the results can be viewed as a good news climate story: In the face of a rapid environmental change, these moths appear to be thriving, suggesting that they are more resilient than scientists had expected, Hunter said.”
Resilient to what for Christ’s sake? The freezing bloody cold?
This level of stupidity is getting published ? This is the end of science.

Ed

“The findings have implications that reach beyond moths in Lapland.” You can say that again! This would do as a perfect case study in confirmation bias, bordering on psychosis. Scientists?

old construction worker

“Hunter used advanced statistical techniques to examine the roles of different ecological forces….” . ? O good. Another hockey stick.

Louis Hooffstetter

“You see it getting warmer, you see it getting wetter and you see myth populations either staying the same or going up. Myths like this warmer, wetter climate.”… said ecologist Mark Hunter of the University of Michigan. (fixed, thanks to Bruce Cobb).
Bruce Cobb says: “I don’t know about the moths, but the climate myths… sure are getting weirder.

Steve C

Brilliant! Invisible armageddon! They should try setting up “a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is” … hmmm, now that sounds familiar …

Bryan A

As stated
“If unknown ecological forces are helping to counteract the harmful effects of climate change on these moths, it’s conceivable that a similar masking of impacts is happening elsewhere. If that’s the case, then scientists are likely underestimating the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants, Hunter said.”
As should have been stated
If unknown ecological forces are helping to counteract the harmful effects of climate change on these moths,(then it is likely that these “Harmful Effects” of Climate change aren’t as harmful as theory indicates) it’s conceivable that a similar masking of impacts is happening elsewhere (and therefore theory also indicates a stronger negative effect than is indicated by direct examination). If that’s the case, then scientists are likely
OVER(under)estimating the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants, Hunter should have said.

Man Bearpig

Here is a thought. There are some that believe in esoterics, such as telepathy, talking to dead people, ghosts, etc, etc. There is no difference between AGW and esoterics because in both camps there is no observed data, only belief and now magic moths.

Bryan A

Steve C says:
April 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm
Brilliant! Invisible armageddon! They should try setting up “a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is” … hmmm, now that sounds familiar …
Have you seen the Emperor’s new suit?

bernie1815

I thought the years chosen for the temperature seemed a bit arbitrary so I went looking for a nearby weather station. It seems like someone is not being that forthright in their description of the local temperatures. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/show_station.cgi?id=614028360000&dt=1&ds=14

Utter drivel! And to think they get paid for producing such rubbish!