Butterflies as Bioindicators October 07, 2007
Butterflies: a thing of beauty or scientific tool?
Bioindicators, such as dragonfly larva, are often used to determine water quality in streams and ponds. The absence or presence of these larva are a pretty good indication of water-body health. If a good variety is present, that is indicative of a healthy environment. If they are absent, that should be a red flag that serious studies are needed.
Butterflies might be used as bioindicators as well. Because some species are localized and found in specific habitats, they too might help us to understand the impact of loss of these habitats.
We know that Bronze Copper and Baltimore Checkerspot larva both feed on wetland species. When these wetlands are compromised, or filled in, these species fail. These butterflies do not have large ranges of flight where they can relocate. Unlike the Monarch, the vast majority of butterflies remain fairly close to the area where there were bred and hatched. Lost of habitat probably has the biggest impact on Ohio's butterflies and their declining numbers. Ohio has lost 90 % of its wetlands.
By providing islands of habitat or even better, corridors of habitat, hopefully our combined efforts could help turn the tide for these species.
Most property owners want to drain any wet areas, but these are locations that host incredible diversity. There are many plants that can be used to landscape these areas and retain their natural beauty as well as provide habitat. It is not nice to fool Mother Nature, so work with her and see how we all can benefit. Help save a wetland today!
For more information contact Greater Mohican Audubon Society or promote conservation by attending Ohio Ornithological Society's Conservation Symposium.