Bartram’s Scrub-Hairstreaks are threatened by habitat loss both through development and lack of fire. They occur in pine rocklands in south Florida and depend on fires to maintain populations of their food plant, pineland croton. Pine rockland is one of the rarest forested ecosystems on the planet and was the first habitat to be developed by Europeans in south Florida because it did not have to be drained. Bartram’s Scrub-Hairstreaks are now only found in the few pine rockland fragments that are still frequently burned, primarily in Everglades National Park, a few Miami-Dade County natural areas, and the National Key Deer Refuge in the lower Florida Keys.
It can be hard to burn small pine rockland fragments, therefore, our research has focused on testing the effectiveness of alternative management actions such as mechanical understory removal. We have found that mechanical methods are better than no action but cannot totally replace fires. What remains unknown, and is the target of our current research, is how frequently the habitat needs to be disturbed to maintain populations of butterflies and their hostplants.
Our current work includes studies of:
- Demographic studies of egg, caterpillar, and adult survival
- Demographic studies of croton survival and recruitment following disturbances
- Modelling the effect of multiple disturbances on population dynamics
View our published Bartram’s Scrub-Hairstreak research in our Rare Butterflies Publications.