karner blue

John Shuey jshuey at tnc.org
Tue Feb 9 18:50:51 EST 1999

I actually published what I though was a pretty good review of habitat
requirements and manegment for the Karner Blue in the Journal Lepid. Soc last
year.  Even had a catchy title.

"Dancing with fire: ecosystem dynamics, management, and the Karner Blue
(Lycaeides melissa samuelis Nabokov) (Lycaenidae).  J. Lepid. Soc. 52:
263-269."  You will find links to the very extensive literature in the
references of the paper. I can send the manuscript text to people as an
attacjment if so requested (no figures though).  Here is the introduction:

The recent listing of the Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis
Nabokov) as an endangered species (Clough 1992) has increased interest in
managing and restoring populations of this charismatic invertebrate.  The Karner
Blue and other lepidopteran species are rapidly becoming symbols for restoring
and conserving the barrens/savanna ecosystems that occur on well drained sand
deposits in the Great Lakes Region and New England.  The dynamic processes that
produced unique botanical communities also produced a highly specialized
community of invertebrates adapted to this regime.  Because of their general
biological requirements, invertebrates are often closely linked to a few key
ecological resources, such as specific soil types, edaphic conditions and/or
individual hostplant species or genera (Panzer et al 1995).
 The importance of oak barrens/savanna habitats to invertebrates is well
illustrated by the Lepidoptera.  In Ohio, the only midwestern state with a
completed state-wide survey of all Lepidoptera species, the Oak Openings,
(Ohio's only oak barrens/savanna community), supports the largest assemblage of
imperiled butterflies and moths in the state.  For example, five species of
imperiled butterflies and 17 species of owlet moths (Noctuiidae) occur in the
Oak Openings, representing approximately 4% and 3% respectively, of the resident
species in Ohio (Shuey et al 1987a, 1987b, Metzler & Lucas 1990, Iftner et al
1992, Rings et al 1992).  The maintenance of this ecosystem is vital for the
preservation of lepidopteran biodiversity, as well as for other lesser known
plants and animals in Ohio and the importance of oak barrens/savanna communities
to biodiversity maintenance in the other Great Lakes States is certainly similar
to the situation in Ohio.  For example, Panzer et al (1995) lists 17 species of
butterflies that are primarily restricted to sand prairie, savanna and xeric
prairie in the greater Chicago region.
 The decline of oak barrens/savanna lepidopteran communities can be attributed
to several factors, but habitat loss, the disruption of ecosystem level
processes and patch dynamics, and the collapse of metapopulation dynamics of
many species are generally the primary contributors.  Here I discuss these
intertangled processes, and the management implications and problems associated
with each process as they relate to the Karner Blue (for ecological information
regarding other imperiled midwestern lepidopteran species, see the species and
habitat accounts in Rings et al 1992 and Iftner et al 1992).

There was also an entire volume devoted to the KBB "D. A. Andow, R. J. Baker &
C. P. Lane, eds. Karner blue butterfly: symbol of a vanishing landscape.  Misc.
Publ. 84-1994, Minn. Agric. Exp. Stat., Univ. Minn. St. Paul."

MWalker at gensym.com wrote:

> Michael,
> What is the significance of the Pine/Oak barren habitat?  I'm fairly certain
> that L. perennis is not specific to this habitat, and that the Lupine can be
> found throughout northern New England (very local, and not widespread as
> you've mentioned - and disappearing).  Yet, to my knowledge, the butterfly
> is only found in the sandy barren types of habitats.  Maybe it has something
> to do with the overwintering ova.  I hadn't heard that explanation before,
> but it makes good sense.  This might also explain why the butterfly
> disappeared first from it's southernmost locations.
> Mark Walker.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Michael Gochfeld [SMTP:gochfeld at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU]
> > Sent: Saturday, February 06, 1999 5:47 PM
> > To:   leps-l at lists.yale.edu
> > Subject:      Re: karner blue
> >
> > The larval host, Lupinus perennis, is not that widespread, and it is
> > declining in certain areas of the Albany Pine Barrens.  One of the
> > central areas where I used to find both Lupine and Karner Blue, is now
> > almost completely devoid of both, although a few plants are growing
> > among the grasses near a parking lot.  There are some experimental areas
> > with exclosures designed to protect the lupine from grazing by deer. On
> > two visits to this experimental site in 1997 and 1998, it didn't look
> > like the Lupines were doing worse outside the exclosures than inside
> > them.
> >
> > One of the reasons for the decline of the Lupine in the central area, is
> > probably succession due to fire suppression. However, I suspect that the
> > burgeoning deer population may contribute to its decline in some areas
> > (my garden for example).
> >
> > Controlled burning would probably help the Lupine. Whether it would help
> > the butterfly is another story.  One possibility is that after years of
> > fire suppression you get a build up of litter so that the next fire that
> > eventually does come through is much hotter, and kills lots of things
> > that would have otherwise survived---perhaps the ants are in this
> > category.
> >
> > However, there are several species of ants that tend Karner Blue
> > caterpillars, and although the tended caterpillars have about twice the
> > survival rate of untended ones (based on work by  Dolores Savignano
> > who did a study of the Karner Blue and its ant associates in the Albany
> > Pine Bush) ants are apparently not essential for individual survival.
> >
> > Another suggestion is that a series of warm winters with scant snow
> > cover is at fault.  The Karner Blue---at least at Albany---overwinters
> > in the egg stage, and itis possible that with inadequate snow cover the
> > eggs desicate or otherwise succumb. Normally the eggs hatch in mid-April
> > about the time that new shoots of Lupine appear.
> >
> > It's also obvious that many other Lycaenids are in trouble. The
> > International Union for the Conservation of Nature has published an
> > entire volume (edited by T.R. New, 1993) on "Conservation Biology of
> > Lycaenidae (Buterflies).
> >
> > The research on this species has been done mainly by Cryan and Dirig and
> > their students. These authors reported that between mid 1970's and 1989,
> > Lupine had disappeared from 18 or 46 of their study sites, and many of
> > the persisting stands had declined due to shading.
> >
> > Although all of these factors may interact, I think that controlled
> > burning is critical to survival of the species, although it will not be
> > popular since the Pine Bush has become a mosaic of habitat fragments
> > with residential and commercial properties interspersed. And, of course,
> > development pressure continues to mount.
> >
> > M. Gochfeld

John Shuey
Director of Conservation Science
Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy

phone:  317-923-7547
fax:  317-923-7582
email:  Jshuey at tnc.org

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