BASS Seminar - Swartz

The Regal Fritillary Reintroduction Project

Mark Swartz
Wildlife Biolgist 3
Ft. Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center

Military lands harbor a wealth of biodiversity primarily due to the lack of modern development.  Here, land disturbances typically come from management regimes, training activities, and natural processes that create an ecological mosaic of habitats.  Sometimes the habitats are rare or specialized which then support rare or specialized plants and animals.  One of these facilities, Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center (FIG), is located about 60 miles NE from Gettysburg.  The installation covers over 17,000 acres and is dominated by forests, wetlands, shrublands, and various open areas.  Many of these open areas are managed as grasslands that provide refuge to the last known eastern population of the Regal Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria idalia).  This butterfly species was once wide-spread, occurring throughout the mid-western US and out to the east coast, extending from New England to the Carolinas until a shift to modern agriculture and increasing urbanization eliminated most its grassland habitat.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has kept close contact with FIG Conservation staff about the status of the regal for over 20 years and as part of an agreement, wildlife biologists perform annual surveys that assess population health as well as other related research.  One of these related projects involves a reintroduction program that works with colleges, universities and a local zoo to find, assess, and transform research sites into grassland habitats that one day may support self-sustaining regal fritillary populations.  Gettysburg Battlefield is a reintroduction site that will be incorporated into our program this coming field season.  It is of key interest because so far, it is our only site with a historic presence of the butterfly.  It also still maintains patches of essential resources such as violets for feeding spring larvae, milkweeds and thistles for nectaring adults, and warm season bunch grass clumps for year-round protection.  To perform the baseline survey work that needs to be done it is essential to have active student involvement as it not only offers a valuable source of labor but also provides students with practical field experience as part of team and as an individual.  FIG offers this opportunity and others as part of a summer internship program designed to help young biologists hone their research skills as well as contribute to an important conservation initiative.  

Sponsored by: EPACC and Biology Department

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 5:00pm to 6:00pm

McCreary Hall 115 Bowen Auditorium

Biology Department
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