Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Prairie butterfly sliding towards extinction

Rarer than a Panda! Researchers working to save endangered butterfly
July 2013. Researchers from both Canada and the United States are rushing to figure out why a small, brown and orange winged butterfly is dying out quickly.
 (Courtesy Erik Runquist/Minnesota Zoo)

Massive population crash
Listed as an endangered species in Manitoba in 2012 and listed nationally as threatened, the Poweshiek skipperling butterfly population has dropped dramatically throughout North America. In Canada, it is known to only inhabit 17 fields in south-eastern Manitoba, primarily on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Tall Grass Prairie Natural Area. In the United States, the closest population appears only in a handful of sites in Iowa and North Dakota.

Researchers from the University of Winnipeg, Minnesota Zoo and University of Michigan are now just outside of Winnipeg performing valuable research on this declining species. Since the adult butterfly is active for only two to three weeks, researchers are using this critical time to collect information on the Poweshiek skipperling's genetics and genetic diversity to save this important butterfly from extinction.

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