Rock quarries in northern Germany have become unlikely wildlife refuges for Europe’s silver-studded blue butterfly, whose meadow habitat has been declining for 100 years. Ecologist Thorsten Münsch spent two summers scouring the region that is home to the largest concentration of alkaline grasslands, and found the number of butterflies in active quarries was four times higher than in comparably sized grasslands. The findings suggest some butterflies benefit from more human activity, not less. To support the insects, limestone quarries could be kept open, shrubs could be cleared from defunct ones, sheep and goats could be deployed to keep grasslands open and fires could be used to keep bushes at bay, Münsch says.

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