Weiss Lab receives GEI Grant from Georgetown University to study the conservation of Urban Lepidoptera
Insect conservation efforts are gaining momentum as people become more aware of the many important ecosystem functions provided by these valuable members of ecological communities. Public engagement in insect conservation is tractable, as the relatively small-scale habitat requirements of many species can be readily provided in backyards, schoolyards, and community gardens. Moreover, insect conservation groups such as the Xerces Society and the National Wildlife Federation are increasingly providing guidance to the public on how to provide habitat for cavity-nesting bees, butterflies, ladybird beetles and a variety of aquatic insects.
Management guidelines for butterfly conservation, while providing excellent suggestions for growing nectar plants for adults and food plants for caterpillars, typically do not address the entire life cycle, and specifically neglect the needs of the pupal stage. Since all life stages are critical to butterfly survival, otherwise well-intentioned conservation efforts can be hampered by failing to account for the pupal phase. We seek to address this issue by 1) conducting original research focused on improving understanding of the effects of pupal habitat selection, natural enemy threat, and human management activities on survival of butterfly pupae; 2) implementing and testing the effectiveness of a variety of pupal conservation approaches by partnering with local institutions already engaged in butterfly conservation activities; and 3) building capacity by advancing the training and mentoring of a doctoral student and several undergraduate research assistants.
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