Upland Pine, Blackwater River State Forest. Photo by Gary Knight

Friday, February 12, 2016

Butterfly Conservation in North America

Dukes' Skipper                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Dean Jue

A recent book, Butterfly Conservation in North America: Efforts to help save our charismatic microfauna, edited by Dr. Jaret Daniels of the University of Florida, is unique in its geographic and species focus-- butterfly conservation in North America-- and  emphasis on efforts to protect all North American butterfly species rather than just a few bellwether species such as the monarch.  A recent review in the Journal of Insect Conservation states that the new book delivers practical advice on butterfly conservation while being informative and free of jargon.  One of its nine chapters highlights FNAI’s recent development of a rare butterfly database.  Written by Dean Jue, staff scientist with FNAI and the Florida Resources and Environmental Analysis Center (FREAC), the chapter includes a detailed discussion of the challenges and problems encountered in developing such a database and possible ways to resolve those issues.
Dean Jue and citizen scientists surveying for rare butterflies at Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge.  Photo by Sally Jue 

In the mid-2000s, FNAI took action to expand its rare species database to include more comprehensive data on invertebrates, and hired a full-time invertebrate biologist to help accomplish this goal.  In addition, Dean Jue obtained six years of state wildlife grant (SWG) funding from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to survey Florida conservation lands specifically for rare butterflies.   With volunteer time providing the required SWG match, FNAI staff developed a state-wide, coordinated survey methodology utilizing citizen scientists to accomplish this task.  Over one hundred citizen scientists participated in this project.  As a result of their efforts, the number of FNAI database records for rare Florida butterflies increased from fewer than two dozen in 2006 to more than 400 records in 2015.

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