Climate Change and Butterfly Populations
My research seeks to understand how the survival and growth of butterfly populations will change under future climate conditions. I raise Appalachian Brown butterflies (Satyrodes appalachia) from eggs to adults in warming chambers in a greenhouse and at field sites at Fort Bragg NC. This allows me to evaluate the effects of warming on larval survival, development and the timing of lifecycle events.
Here’s a video about my research, created by the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Magazine:
I’ve also been able to study how increased temperatures affect adult butterfly survival and reproduction, through mark-recapture surveys and oviposition experiments. My goal is to combine all of these vital rates to create a population model that can project growth under different climate scenarios. Ultimately decision makers can use my findings to inform management and conservation strategies.
The above research is being carried out as part of a larger collaboration funded by the Strategic Environmental and Research Development Program (SERDP). The goal of the research is to use spatially-explicit population models to predict whether a variety of species will become conservation reliant in non-analogue future environments on DoD lands.
As part of the collaboration, I’ve assisted research evaluating population dynamics of the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). I’ve led field efforts at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejune and Croatan National Forest to conduct annual demographic censuses, and to set up burning experiments evaluating the effects of fire on population persistence.