Prescribed fire maintains host plants of a rare grassland butterfly
Conservation of Natural Resources
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/4524
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Abstract© 2019, The Author(s). As grassland ecosystems transform globally due to anthropogenic pressures, improvements in our understanding of the effect of management on rare and threatened species in such landscapes has become urgent. Although prescribed fire is a very efficient tool for habitat restoration and endangered species management on fire-adapted ecosystems, the specific mechanisms underlying potential effects of burning on population dynamics of butterfly host plants are poorly understood. We analyzed a 12-year dataset (2004–2015), combining violet abundance, habitat physiognomy and fire history data from a fire-managed system, to determine factors influencing the spatiotemporal distribution and abundance of violets (Viola spp.), the host plants of the threatened eastern regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia idalia) butterfly. Our results demonstrate a critical role for fire in driving both presence and abundance of violets, suggesting management with prescribed fires can effectively promote butterfly host plants. In addition, we determined the character of habitats associated with violet presence and abundance, in particular a strong positive association with biocrusts. These results provide a roadmap for efficient site selection to increase the effectiveness of restoration efforts, including assessment of potential reintroduction sites for regal fritillary and other grassland butterflies and actions to promote the re-establishment of host plants in these sites.
Citation to related workSpringer Science and Business Media LLC
Has partScientific Reports
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