Butterfly Studies at
Bandelier National Monument,
New Mexico


    SEE ABSTRACT For Ecological Society of America meeting,   3-9  August 2002, Tucson, AZ.

         We are investigating the response of butterfly assemblages to elk and vegetation management at Bandelier National Monument. Preliminary research indicates that plant species' composition and community structure are changing due to increased herbivory by high numbers of elk. These changes, in combination with periodic draught and historic human land practices, are increasing rates of soil erosion and moisture loss, degrading archeological sites and inhibiting natural fire regimes. However, little is known about how these changes and their management, affect biological diversity. Since 1999 we have been monitoring adult butterflies (abundance and species composition), their nectar plants, and various other environmental parameters in fenced ungulate exclosures and reference sites (60x60m) as a means of measuring their response to elk herbivory and trampling. These sites are replicated within piņon-juniper woodlands, ponderosa pine grasslands and mixed coniferous forest habitats.

       We are also involved in an experiment that is measuring the response of butterflies to an overstory reduction- slash mulch treatment as part of a  piņon-juniper watershed restoration in BAND and we are conducting preliminary research on the butterflies of the newly established Valles Caldera National Preserve.

A species list of butterflies at BAND and the VCNP is available at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/1999/insect/bflys.htm Published results are forthcoming, but if you have questions please contact P. Kleintjes at UWEC or Stephen Fettig at Bandelier National Monument.


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  Above Left: Ungulate exclosure in mixed conifer/aspen forest habitat.

Above Right: Ponderosa pine and grassland reference area.

  Below:Reakirt's blue butterfly.

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               Below: Dr.K identifying butterflies.

  Below: Elk feeding damage on quaking aspen. 

Updated 11 -11- 2003