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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Crisfield

Blue Blazes [in pursuit of a butterfly effect]

In September 2019, Neil Gifford and Steven Campbell of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission in New York published a story of ecological restoration in which they explain how and why the Karner Blue butterfly (Plegejus melissa samuelis) requires prescribed fire which sustains its host plant, lupine (Lupinus perennis). In this short article, Neil and Steven review this butterfly's unique life phases and how they line up with the seasons on the site. Through careful reintroduction of fire into the ecosystem over nearly 3 decades, staff at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve have brought the Karner Blue population from a few hundred to approximately 10,000.

Neil and Steven describe the general strategy.

"In the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, a diverse group of public and private conservation partners are reintroducing fire, alongside other pre- and post-fire treatments, including tree cutting, mowing, and planting, to restore the barrens ecosystem health and recover the local Karner blue population."

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