Environmental enhancement?

Andrew Warren warrena at mail.science.orst.edu
Mon Jan 14 17:59:35 EST 2002

Interesting examples Ken,

I am in no way trying to defend environmental degradation in any way, but
another interesting story along the same lines.  

The Eriogonum food plant of Philotiella leona, a recently described
species from Oregon, occurs in dense mats over recently disturbed areas.
Normally this plant is sparsely distributed at any given site, but at the
type locality of leona, the Forest Service (?) has used large trucks to
gather dead wood in the area (presumably as a fire-prevention measure),
and stack this wood in very large piles, which are later burned.  The
process of delivering several truckloads of dead wood to these piles
leaves the vegetation in the area around these piles devastated.  However,
these devastated spots are quickly (within 1 to three years from what I
can tell) over-grown by the Eriogonum the leona feed on, and it is in
these disturbed sites where leona are common enough for anyone to notice

Anyuthing you can add on this, Dr. Worth?


On Mon, 14 Jan 2002, Kenelm Philip wrote:

> 	In the light of the current thread about environmental degradation
> and its severe impact on butterflies, I thought it might be of interest
> to bring up a couple of (minor) counter-examples in Alaska.
> 1) The roadside along the Haines Highway north of Haines, Alaska, is now
> lined with dandelions. According to the natives, these were unknown along
> the river valley in the old days. Judging by what I saw in May 1994, the
> roadside dandelions are acting as an excellent concentrating mechanism for
> the local butterflies, especially _Anthocharis sara_.
> 2) The gravel pad under the Aleska oil pipeline has, in some areas, become
> a good collecting site for certain species of butterflies. I first noticed
> this in 1979, near Galbraith Lake--the pipeline pad had a concentration of
> _Oeneis bore_ (which was widely distributed over the adjacent tussock
> tundra). In 1991, at a Dalton Highway site with the odd name of 'Oil Spill
> Hill', the pipeline gravel pad had been taken over with both grasses and
> legumes. The legumes had concentrated several species of _Colias_ that
> were more sparsely distributed over the Sagavanirktok River floodplain,
> and the grasses supported a dense population of _Oeneis bore_ and _O.
> excubitor_ (= _O. alpina_).
> 	This last summer I had the opportunity to check Oil Spill Hill
> for a second time. The legumes were no longer there, so there were no
> _Colias_--but the grasses were doing fine, and there were very high con-
> centrations of _Oeneis bore_ and _O. excubitor_. _O. excubitor_ was having
> a good summer (unlike many other butterfly species in 2001) on the North
> Slope, but at no other site did we find such a dense population as under
> the pipeline at Oil Spill Hill.
> 3) A number of small airstrips in eastern Alaska have produced good crops
> of legumes. These have not subsequently vanished, like the ones at Oil
> Spill Hill--possibly because the strips are regularly mowed. These strips
> have dense populations of _Colias krauthii kluanensis_ (or _C. christina
> kluanensis_ according to some), and also support other _Colias_ species.
> 	Note: I am not trying to defend environmental degradation! I have
> seen its effects, even up here. However, every once in a while something
> good occurs, at least from the viewpoint of lepidopterists.
> 							Ken Philip
> fnkwp at uaf.edu
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