Study

Balancing ecological costs and benefits of fire for population viability of disturbance-dependent butterflies

  • Published source details Warchola N., Crone E.E. & Schultz C.B. (2018) Balancing ecological costs and benefits of fire for population viability of disturbance-dependent butterflies. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55, 800-809.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance in grasslands or other open habitats

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance in grasslands or other open habitats

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 2011–2014 in four upland prairies in Oregon, USA (Warchola et al. 2018) found that prescribed burning in autumn initially reduced the amount of Fender’s blue caterpillar damage, but then the number of eggs and amount of caterpillar damage in burned areas was higher than in unburned areas for two years after burning, although the overall population decreased in both areas. In the first spring after burning, fewer Kincaid’s lupine Lupinus oreganus and spur lupine Lupinus arbustus plants had damage from Fender’s blue caterpillars, per egg found the previous June, in burned plots (0.1 leaves/egg) than in unburned plots (0.3 leaves/egg). However, the following year, there were more damaged leaves in burned (1.2 leaves/egg) than unburned (0.7 leaves/egg) plots, but there was no difference by the third year after burning (burned: 0.3 leaves/egg; unburned: 0.3 leaves/egg). For two years after burning, there were also more eggs in June, per caterpillar found in April, in burned plots (67–68 eggs/caterpillar) than in unburned plots (48–49 eggs/caterpillar), but by the third year after burning the number was similar in burned (26 eggs/caterpillar) and unburned (25 eggs/caterpillar) plots. However, the population declined by 78% in the burned areas and 83% in the unburned areas (statistical significance not assessed). In October 2011, half of each of four prairies was burned (0.07–0.21 ha burned), and the remaining area was not burned. In June 2011–2014, Fender’s blue eggs were surveyed in twenty 1-m2 plots/patch (160 plots total) with ≥30% cover of lupine. In April 2012–2014, the number of caterpillars was estimated by counting the number of lupine leaves with characteristic Fender’s blue feeding damage.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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