Date of Publication

9-15-2020

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Environmental Science and Ecology

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Norment, Professor, Environmental Science and Ecology

Abstract

Because butterfly species such as monarchs (Danaus plexippus) are declining, they have received renewed public and scientific interest. Butterflies provide important ecological services, such as pollination. Understanding their ecology is vital for proper conservation and management, with targeted management on public lands increasing in the last few decades. To determine useful management strategies for butterfly populations on public lands, I investigated butterfly use in two “non-traditional” sites utilized by butterflies at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR): a marsh in full drawdown phase (MP) and a marsh in partial drawdown phase (SF). I also investigated butterfly use at an upland field site planted with native nectar sources (HM). By doing so I hoped to provide MNWR with data on which nectar sources were present and utilized by butterflies, and suggest useful strategies for managing butterfly populations, particularly monarchs. Butterfly populations were present at all my sites and used a variety of nectar sources. At HM, many of the native nectar sources planted by MNWR were present, and a variety of butterfly species used them, with red admiral showing a preference for brown-eyed Susan. Several unplanted native nectar sources and non-native nectar sources were also present at HM, and were used by several butterfly species. Both “non-traditional” habitats supported butterfly populations, including foraging and migrating monarchs, which showed a preference for beggarticks at MP. Combined management of my “non-traditional” sites with other “non-traditional” sites, like dikes, can provide valuable resources for monarch populations throughout much of their life cycle.

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