Sunday, 9 June 2013

Missing butterfly search successful in Biscayne National Park

Butterfly on the brink: First Schaus female found in a year raises hope for revival of species
June 2013. The fate of a species may rest upon a single butterfly captured in late May by University of Florida lepidopterists. A UF research technician netted a female Schaus swallowtail in Biscayne National Park on Elliott Key, the first capture of a female since a multi-agency work group got a permit to do so last year.
(Photo by: Marissa Streifel/University of Florida)

Cataclysmic decline - No females sighted in 2012
The Schaus population has declined so much that last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued UF an emergency permit to collect eggs. That effort ended without a single female sighting last summer but got off to a promising start this spring when the female was captured May 21. From her, field researchers collected a single egg, which she laid May 23 before being released the next day.

The larva that hatched was taken to Gainesville last week, where it will join several other Schaus swallowtail larvae collected from the Keys.

"This single female could help bring the Schaus back from the brink," said Jaret Daniels, professor in UF's Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate curator of lepidoptera at UF's Florida Museum of Natural History. "The larva from her egg, combined with the other larvae we found in habitat preserved by Biscayne National Park, gives us the chance to help safeguard a portion of the remaining population."

Pending discussions with the Service and other conservation partners, UF stands ready to start a breeding program.

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