The Effects of Organic Fertilizer on Two Surrogate Species of the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly
Trosin, Ronald L.
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Climate change and habitat development represent two major contributors to the current large scale loss of ecological diversity. Land development specifically has been implicated in directly reducing the numbers of many animal species resulting in greater amounts of endangered species listings (Solomon et al, 2007). As such, propagation efforts have become important battle grounds against the decline of these endangered animals. The Mitchell’s satyr butterfly (MSB; neonympha mitchellii mitchellii) is one such endangered species. This butterfly is one of the rarest in the world, living only in prairie fens of southwest Michigan and northern Indiana (Hamm & Landis, 2013). These fens are highly susceptible to fertilizer influence due to farmlands often occupying adjacent spaces (MDNR, 2010). To determine the best way to propagate the MSB we can look to two surrogate species that live in abundance and fill similar ecological niches to the MSB: the Eyed brown satyr (EB; Satyrodes eurydice eurydice) and Appalachian brown satyr (AB; Satyrodes appalachia). Fertilizers have been shown to increase insect lifecycle rates, which is detrimental to propagation efforts (Hwang et al, 2008). To better understand how farmland fertilizers affect the MSB for future applications in ex situ propagation, we exposed captured EB and AB butterflies to organic fertilizers for their whole lifecycle and measured the rates of growth of these specimens during larval and pupal stages.