Posting for MBBRP

Anne Kilmer viceroy at GATE.NET
Mon Nov 18 17:29:19 EST 2002

Pardon the cross-posting, my friends and companions.
With this letter from Tom Emmel, the Miami Blue Crew whips into 
overdrive, inviting everyone to join the list. Click on this link.

or email this address
MBBRP-subscribe at

for the freshest and latest of scientific discoveries, plans for the 
future, classroom materials, and whatever else we can generate to 
promote our project.

Tom, I'll be filing this letter there, and if y'all could post your 
findings in the files, I will ask our scientists to do likewise.

In addition to material on the Miami Blue and its cryptic companions, we 
can use this site to coordinate efforts on behalf of other Florida 
butterflies in need of assistance.
Please would everyone who is growing host plants for the Miami Blues, 
whether Cardiospermum spp or Caesalpinia spp. email Tom, so he can get 
his adoptions going?

Tom, we have more or less decided that C. corindum is native, C. 
halicacabum is exotic, the Wunderlin key, we're told, is -- um -- wrong 
and the vine growing in the Keys is allll the native corindum. I would 
like this to be true, of course. Meanwhile, folks are behaving as if 
this was the dreaded Upas tree whose dew is death. It's just a vine, 
like all vines.
I, myself, would like to know quite a bit more about the colony ...
and let's make sure we have some photos of the true Miami Blue.

Thomas C. Emmel wrote:

> November 15, 2002
> Anne Kilmer, Chief
> Miami Blue Crew
> Miami Blue Butterfly Restoration Project
> Dear Anne,
> 	I greatly appreciate your thoughtful and generous offer of
> collaborative help on the Miami Blue work today.  I am indeed eager to have
> the MBBRP team volunteers participate in every possible way in the coming
> months to make this recovery project as successful as humanly possible!  We
> do plan to have at least 2 or 3 of us from UF on the Saturday, December
> 14th, trip with the DEP Ombudsman through the Keys, and we look forward to
> meeting many of the volunteers at that time.
> 	Let me note at the outset of this letter that the MBBRP, NABA, and
> other volunteer groups and individuals were the ones to bring this issue of
> the survival of the Miami Blue to public and official attention.  Without
> that concern for the past two years, and without Jeffrey Glassberg
> petitioning its emergency listing by USFWS, the butterfly's last
> significant colony would have very likely winked out of existence with no
> notice, and the earth would be a little poorer in biodiversity and other
> values that we all treasure.
> 	Our project involvement at the University of Florida came much more
> recently than MBBRP and NABA  in this saga.  In fact, we were not
> approached until late April of this year (2002) by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
> Service, who wanted a previously uninvolved research group to take an
> unbiased look at the situation and submit a proposal for starting status
> surveys and gathering other basic biological data.  We submitted a USFWS
> proposal on April 29th and the first funds for fieldwork were received
> September 5th, but like the MBBRP and NABA, we rapidly realized the urgency
> of the situation for the very survival of the Miami Blue, and started
> fieldwork in May-August on our own resources.
> 	To date, the regular status surveys for the species (conducted with
> a rigorous protocol across all of its previous range, but focusing most of
> our time in the Keys) have borne out the fact that the species population
> is tiny, and extraordinarily restricted geographically.  In accordance with
> accepted ecological species-survey methods, adults are marked and counted
> (not adding eggs or larvae or pupa); our adult counts and our statistical
> population estimates showing fewer than 50 Miami Blues present on any one
> day during the past six months are accurate, and do not include any other
> sympatric blue species.  (Some counts by other workers, incidentally, may
> have combined similar-appearing eggs and larvae of several blue species
> utilizing the same hosts as the Miami Blue on Bahia Honda, as well as
> multiple counts of the same (unmarked) adults, and given much higher
> non-comparable counts.)
> 	A number of factors may have been involved in the Miami Blue's
> decline to this state of affairs and the USFWS project is expanding (at the
> speed of light, it seems!) to address all of these possible factors in a
> similarly rigorous approach which will (as of yesterday) also be supported
> in significant ways by the State of Florida.  Among the agreements reached
> yesterday (11/14) in a conference call arranged by Dr. Benjamin Brumberg of
> the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for all involved state
> and federal agency heads was that our UF group was directed to initiate the
> establishment of a captive propagation colony at our Gainesville facilities
> at the earliest possible date, in order to have a reservoir population for
> eventual reintroductions (as we have done successfully for the endangered
> Schaus Swallowtail) and also for working out details of the Miami Blue's
> relationship with its several hosts, ant associates, its congeneric
> relatives, etc., etc. -- all information of importance in selecting sites
> for future reintroduction and the restoration of the Miami Blue to its
> former abundance in the Florida butterfly fauna.
> 	This work cannot be done here alone or by just a few people.  We
> will need the help of every dedicated MBBRP member in whatever ways they
> are able to participate.  Vital ways in the future may well involve getting
> local communities to become enthusiastic about their selection as
> reintroduction sites, and as hospitable places for butterflies and other
> living creatures in general.  This support by volunteers could involve from
> as little time as writing letters and submitting guest columns to editors
> of local papers, to the time-consuming but critical contribution of raising
> large numbers of larval host plants and adult nectar plants for planting in
> public parks and roadsides as well as backyards.  Those in other states
> (and even other countries) may be able to contribute to the special funds
> set up by MBBRP and NABA to support presently hard-working volunteers such
> as David Fine who has been putting in countless hours of field survey time
> this year without compensation, even for his gasoline costs.
> 	Things are now moving very rapidly and very favorably in both the
> State and Federal agencies to help, including: (1)  issuance of permits to
> UF and to observers from MBBRP and NABA in just the past week to continue
> surveys within the Bahia Honda State Park; (2) authorization for UF's
> McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and the Boender Endangered Species
> Laboratory at Gainesville to initiate a captive colony; and (3) extension
> of adequate protection (legal and physical) for the butterfly from anyone
> who would do it harm either overtly or inadvertently in its last wild
> stronghold.
> 	What can MBBRP and NABA members do now?
> 	First, we need help in identifying existing populations of host
> plant species (gray nickerbean and both Cardiospermum balloon vine species)
> on both the mainland and in the Florida Keys.  Such site records can be
> sent directly to me at "tcemmel at"  At the moment, we do not
> recommend starting to grow the larval hosts (several are classified as
> invasive weeds, and we have to work on this problem for a couple months).
> 	Second, members can begin planning how they could help get ready
> the equally-important nectar sources.  We will need thousands of potted
> plants eventually.  We will circulate detailed suggestions later, but
> seaside heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum) is one of the best nectar
> sources for Miami Blues and most other butterflies (and it is easily raised
> from seeds which people can gather now and hold in dry envelopes for the
> late spring months when it would be appropriate to start growing potted
> heliotrope).
> 	Third, consider setting aside some time next summer and early fall
> (= south Florida rainy season, and the best time to transplant hosts and
> nectar plants) to participate in planting parties and sorties, to
> reintroduce the necessary plants once habitat recovery sites are selected.
> (The dry spring months in south Florida are the least satisfactory time for
> establishing new plantings.)
> 	Fourth, participate with David Fine and other field workers in
> continuing to search the south Florida mainland and the Florida Keys for
> remnant colonies of the Miami Blue, AND for possible "ready-made"
> reintroduction sites where hosts and nectar plants are either already
> present or could be supplemented with summer 2003 plantings.  Please report
> these to "tcemmel at"
> 	Fifth, it would be wonderful if all those interested in saving this
> butterfly could pull together on the oars of the Miami Blue boat, moving us
> all in the same direction of the ultimate goal:  the survival of this
> species.  Getting diverted into side issues is non-productive.  The key is
> to focus on our mutual goals, and to work together towards that end.
> 	Sixth, I hope that your MBBRP web-site will continue to play a key
> role in allowing everyone's voice to be heard and suggestions to be made.
> With over 200 letters and telephone calls a day coming directly to me, I am
> unable to personally or promptly answer inquiries generally, so I would
> really appreciate it if you as Chief could summarize and provide input from
> MBBRP to us with regular collated reports.
> 	In the end, I am confident the world will be a better place because
> of all our efforts to save this little butterfly.  The Miami Blue is
> rapidly becoming a significant symbol to the public of what we could lose
> in general from careless treatment of the environment. All of us working
> together CAN make a difference!
> With warmest regards,
> Tom Emmel
> -----------------------------------
> Thomas C. Emmel
> Professor and Director
> Division of Lepidoptera Research
> Department of Zoology
> P. O. Box 118525
> 123 Bartram Hall
> University of Florida
> Gainesville, FL  32611-8525 (USA)
> Phone:  (352) 392-5894
> Fax: (352) 392-0479
> E-mail:  tcemmel at
> -----------------------------------


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