Disentangling effects of fire, habitat, and climate on an endangered prairie-specialist butterfly

  • Published source details Henderson R.A., Meunier J. & Holoubek N.S. (2018) Disentangling effects of fire, habitat, and climate on an endangered prairie-specialist butterfly. Biological Conservation, 218, 41-48.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use rotational burning

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Use rotational burning

    A replicated, site comparison study in 1997–2016 in seven tallgrass prairies in Wisconsin, USA (Henderson et al. 2018) found that burning initially reduced the abundance of regal fritillaries Speyeria idalia but then resulted in increased abundance for up to four years. All data were presented as model results. Regal fritillary abundance was reduced immediately after burning, highest four years after burning, and reduced again by eight years after burning. Areas burned within the last 7 years had a higher abundance of regal fritillaries than unburned areas, but fritillary abundance was not significantly higher in more frequently burned areas. The proportion of habitat burned did not affect abundance. From 1997–2016, seven patches of remnant and restored prairie (19–41 ha, 0.25–3.5 km apart) were managed with periodic rotational burning, where 25–93% of each site was left unburned each year. Burned areas always had suitable unburned habitat within 622 m. In July and August 1997–2016, beginning 7–10 days after the first emergence, regal fritillaries were surveyed weekly on 57 permanent transects across the seven sites, with >3 surveys/transect/year. The maximum number of regal fritillaries recorded on a single survey each year was used as the population estimate for each transect.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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