The Last Butterflies: A Scientist's Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature

Princeton University Press
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A remarkable look at the rarest butterflies, how global changes threaten their existence, and how we can bring them back from near-extinction

Most of us have heard of such popular butterflies as the Monarch or Painted Lady. But what about the Fender’s Blue? Or the St. Francis’ Satyr? Because of their extreme rarity, these butterflies are not well-known, yet they are remarkable species with important lessons to teach us. The Last Butterflies spotlights the rarest of these creatures—some numbering no more than what can be held in one hand. Drawing from his own first-hand experiences, Nick Haddad explores the challenges of tracking these vanishing butterflies, why they are disappearing, and why they are worth saving. He also provides startling insights into the effects of human activity and environmental change on the planet’s biodiversity.

Weaving a vivid and personal narrative with ideas from ecology and conservation, Haddad illustrates the race against time to reverse the decline of six butterfly species. Many scientists mistakenly assume we fully understand butterflies’ natural histories. Yet, as with the Large Blue in England, we too often know too little and the conservation consequences are dire. Haddad argues that a hands-off approach is not effective and that in many instances, like for the Fender’s Blue and Bay Checkerspot, active and aggressive management is necessary. With deliberate conservation, rare butterflies can coexist with people, inhabit urban fringes, and, in the case of the St. Francis’ Satyr, even reside on bomb ranges and military land. Haddad shows that through the efforts to protect and restore butterflies, we might learn how to successfully confront conservation issues for all animals and plants.

A moving account of extinction, recovery, and hope, The Last Butterflies demonstrates the great value of these beautiful insects to science, conservation, and people.

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About the author

Nick Haddad is a professor and senior terrestrial ecologist in the Department of Integrative Biology and the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University. He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Twitter @nickmhaddad
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 25, 2019
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Pages
250
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ISBN
9780691189628
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animals / Butterflies & Moths
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Science / Life Sciences / Biological Diversity
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / Entomology
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Islands are special places; they can be havens for unique plants and animals and refuges for wildlife. This book investigates the biogeography of butterfly species over the British islands, particularly the factors that influence their presence on the islands and that have made each island's butterfly fauna distinctive. The book contains a full log of records of species on the islands and much supporting information. The first three chapters set the scene, illustrating the basics of island biogeography theory, their changing circumstances during the current Holocene interglacial, and studies of natural history of British butterflies that mark the islands as the most intensively studied region for wildlife in the world. The book advances by increasing resolution downscale from a European continental perspective, through patterns and changes on the British mainland, a comparison of the two dominant islands of Britain and Ireland, to a close inspection of the dynamics of species on the multitude of offshore islands. Detailed investigations include contrasts in species' richness on the islands and then of the incidences of each species. Case studies highlight the continual turnover of species on islands. Attention is then given to evolutionary changes since the time that glaciers enveloped Europe. A powerful message is conveyed for the maintenance of butterfly species on the smaller British islands now experiencing population losses at a rate unprecedented since the spread of the last ice sheets: the incontrovertible importance of maintaining populations of species on nearby mainland sources for islands as pools for future migrants.
Monarch butterflies are among the most popular insect species in the world and are an icon for conservation groups and environmental education programs. Monarch caterpillars and adults are easily recognizable as welcome visitors to gardens in North America and beyond, and their spectacular migration in eastern North America (from breeding locations in Canada and the United States to overwintering sites in Mexico) has captured the imagination of the public.Monarch migration, behavior, and chemical ecology have been studied for decades. Yet many aspects of monarch biology have come to light in only the past few years. These aspects include questions regarding large-scale trends in monarch population sizes, monarch interactions with pathogens and insect predators, and monarch molecular genetics and large-scale evolution. A growing number of current research findings build on the observations of citizen scientists, who monitor monarch migration, reproduction, survival, and disease. Monarchs face new threats from humans as they navigate a changing landscape marked by deforestation, pesticides, genetically modified crops, and a changing climate, all of which place the future of monarchs and their amazing migration in peril. To meet the demand for a timely synthesis of monarch biology, conservation and outreach, Monarchs in a Changing World summarizes recent developments in scientific research, highlights challenges and responses to threats to monarch conservation, and showcases the many ways that monarchs are used in citizen science programs, outreach, and education. It examines issues pertaining to the eastern and western North American migratory populations, as well as to monarchs in South America, the Pacific and Caribbean Islands, and Europe. The target audience includes entomologists, population biologists, conservation policymakers, and K–12 teachers.Contributors: Anurag A. Agrawal, Cornell University; Jared G. Ali, Michigan State University; Sonia Altizer, University of Georgia; Michael C. Anderson, Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Sophia M. Anderson, Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Kim Bailey, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Rebecca Batalden, University of Minnesota; Kristen A. Baum, Oklahoma State University; Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Brianna Borders, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Lincoln P. Brower, Sweet Briar College; Wendy Caldwell, University of Minnesota; Mariana Cantú-Férnandez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Nicola Chamberlain, Harvard University; Sonya Charest, Montreal Insectarium; Andrew K. Davis, University of Georgia; Alma De Anda, Covina, California; Guadalupe del Rio Pesado, Alternare, A.C., Mexico; Janet Kudell-Ekstrum, USDA Forest Service; Linda S. Fink, Sweet Briar College; Mark Fishbein, Oklahoma State University; Juan Fernández-Haeger, University of Córdoba, Spain; Eligio García Serrano, Fondo Monarca, Mexico; Mark Garland, Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project; Brian Hayes, Monarch Teacher Network; Elizabeth Howard, Journey North; Mark D. Hunter, University of Michigan; Sarina Jepsen, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Diego Jordano, University of Córdoba, Spain; Matthew C. Kaiser, University of Minnesota; Ridlon J. Kiphart, Texas Master Naturalists; Marcus R. Kronforst, University of Chicago; Jim Lovett, University of Kansas; Eric Lee-Mäder, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Stephen B. Malcolm, Western Michigan University; Héctor Martínez-Torres, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Susan Meyers, Stone Mountain Memorial Association; Erik A. Mollenhauer, Monarch Teacher Network; Mía Monroe, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Eneida B. Montesinos-Patino, Monarch Butterfly Fund; Gail M. Morris, Southwest Monarch Study; Elisha K. Mueller, Oklahoma State University; Kelly R. Nail, University of Minnesota; Karen S. Oberhauser, University of Minnesota; Diego R. Pérez-Salicrup, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Amanda A. Pierce, Emory University; John Pleasants, Iowa State University; Victoria Pocius, University of Kansas; Robert Michael Pyle, Northwest Lepidoptera Survey; M. Isabel Ramírez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Sergio Rasmann, University of California, Irvine; Gerald Rehfeldt, USDA Forest Service; Eduardo Rendón-Salinas, World Wildlife Fund–Mexico; Leslie Ries, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center; Jacobus C. de Roode, Emory University; Richard G. RuBino, Florida State University; Ann Ryan, University of Kansas; Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo; Lidia Salas-Canela, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Phil Schappert, Biophilia Consulting; Priya C. Shahani, Oregon State University; Benjamin H. Slager, Western Michigan University; Michelle J. Solensky, University of Jamestown; Douglas J. Taron, Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum; Orley R. Taylor, University of Kansas; Rocío Treviño, Protección de la Fauna Mexicana A.C.; Francis X. Villablanca, California Polytechnic State University; Dick Walton, New Jersey Audubon/Cape May Bird Observatory; Ernest H. Williams, Hamilton College; Elisabeth Young-Isebrand, University of Minnesota; Myron P. Zalucki, University of Queensland; Raúl R. Zubieta, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
The book addresses this critical need by providing a straightforward and easy to read primer to key elements of at-risk butterfly conservation programs including captive husbandry, organism reintroduction, habitat restoration, population monitoring, recovery planning and cooperative programs.

Impacts from habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and climate change continue to accelerate the rate of imperilment and necessitate increased conservation action.

Zoos, natural history museums, botanical gardens and wildlife agencies are progressively focusing on insects, particularly charismatic groups such as butterflies and native pollinators, to help advance local conservation efforts and foster increased community interest and engagement.

Today, many institutions and their partners have successfully initiated at-risk butterfly conservation programs, and numerous others are exploring ways to become involved. However, insufficient experience and familiarity with insects is a critical constraint preventing staff and institutions from adequately planning, implementing and evaluating organism-targeted activities.

The information provided is intended to improve staff practices, learn from existing programs, promote broader information exchange, and strengthen institutional ability to develop new or improve existing butterfly conservation initiatives.

The information provided is intended to improve staff practices, learn from existing programs, promote broader information exchange, and strengthen institutional ability to develop new or improve existing butterfly conservation initiatives.

This book will be useful to professionals from zoos, natural history museums, botanical gardens, wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, land managers, students, and scientist in conservation biology, ecology, entomology, biology, and zoology.

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