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Endangered butterfly needs special environment

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Developing a park system that helps to restore endangered species is not as simple as setting aside land. Endangered species like the Fenders Blue butterfly have specific requirements that must be met before they can thrive.

Cheryl Schultz, a post-doctoral fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been studying Fenders Blue since 1993, and will present a talk on the topic on Tuesday at the annual Ecological Society of America meeting in Tucson. (See contact information below.)

Fenders Blue is a species that used to thrive in the prairies of Oregon, until its habitat was disturbed by farming and development. Only one half of one percent of this grassland remains in its native form.

Prairies were the earliest areas that were settled and farmed in Oregon, and few natural areas remain, explained Schultz. Now a coalition of environmentalists and planners are looking to restore Fenders Blue habitat in an area near Eugene, Ore., as part of a larger restoration project.

The Kincaids lupine, a threatened wildflower that provides food for Fenders blue caterpillars, will be planted in restored areas. Other native grasses and wildflowers will be added so that the patches of land will function as native habitat.

Schultz and her collaborator, Elizabeth Crone, of the University of Montana, reviewed possible restoration sites to see if the butterfly would thrive. The Nature Conservancy is helping to choose sites that could potentially be bought and restored, a combination of public and private land.

Schultz and Crone evaluated 150 patches in all. "We analyzed whether or not patches would be colonized and how they might add to the overall system," said Schultz.

Patch size and connectivity interact, said Schultz. A small patch could contribute to the population if it is close to other patches. And if a patch is too far away
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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
5-Aug-2002


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