Environmental predictors of shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa) habitat and quality as host for Maine’s endangered Clayton’s copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas claytoni)

Wetlands Ecology and Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Population size of habitat-specialized butterflies is limited in part by host plant distribution and abundance. Effective conservation for host-specialist species requires knowledge of host-plant habitat conditions and relationships with the specialist species. Clayton’s copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas claytoni) is a Maine state-endangered species that relies exclusively on shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa) as its host. Dasiphora fruticosa occurs in 28 wetlands in Maine, ten of which are occupied by L. d. claytoni. Little is known about environmental conditions that support large, persistent stands of D. fruticosa in Maine. We evaluated the environment (hydrology, pore water and peat nutrients) associated with D. fruticosa distribution, age, and condition in Maine wetlands supporting robust stands of D. fruticosa to compare with L. d. claytoni occurrence. Although dominant water source in D. fruticosa—containing wetlands included both groundwater discharge and surface-flow, D. fruticosa coverage was greater in wetlands with consistent growing season water levels that dropped into or below the root zone by late season, and its distributions within wetlands reflected pore water hydrogen ion and conductivity gradients. Flooding magnitude and duration were greatest during the L.d. claytoni larval feeding period, whereas, mean depth to water table and upwelling increased and were most variable following the L. d. claytoni egg-laying period that precedes D. fruticosa senescence. Oldest sampled shrubs were 37 years, and older shrubs were larger and slower-growing. Encounter rates of L. d. claytoni were greater in wetlands with larger D. fruticosa plants of intermediate age and greater bloom density. Wetland management that combines conditions associated with D. fruticosa abundance (e.g., non-forested, seasonally consistent water levels with high conductivity) and L. d. claytoni occurrence (e.g., drawdown below the root zone following egg-laying, abundant blooms on intermediate-aged D. fruticosa, nearby D. fruticosa-containing wetlands) will aid L. d. claytoni conservation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Environmental predictors of shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa) habitat and quality as host for Maine’s endangered Clayton’s copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas claytoni)
Series title Wetlands Ecology and Management
DOI 10.1007/s11273-015-9427-1
Volume 23
Issue 5
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 18 p.
First page 891
Last page 908
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