The Occasional Newsletter of the Vermont Butterfly Survey
April 2006
Vol. 5 No. 1
Here's another issue of CHRYSALIS, an irregular e-mail newsletter about the Vermont Butterfly Survey. You're getting this because you have signed on as a VBS volunteer. If you'd rather not receive this newsletter, please reply to this e-mail and asked to be removed from the mailing list. Thanks for joining the survey.
Kent McFarland and Bryan Pfeiffer
1. Our Fifth and Final Season
2. Help Wanted on Data
3. Have You Left VBS?
4. More VBS Training-Blockbusting Sessions
5. Tracking VBS Volunteer Time Helps with Funding
6. Spring Azure complex in Vermont
7. Web Page Picks
The Vermont Butterfly Survey needs you now more than ever. Our survey work these past four years has produced a tremendous amount of critical information about the distribution of butterflies across Vermont. Residing in the VBS database are nearly 30,000 records of your encounters of butterflies. It’s the most comprehensive assessment of an insect taxon in Vermont. But we’re not done yet.
Before this field season gets into full swing (pun intended) we'll be presenting you with a complete update on our work to date – and the work that remains to be done. We'll show you the VBS priority blocks that still need more survey work. We'll suggest the best dates for additional survey work. And we'll be searching specifically for a few species that remain undiscovered in Vermont. Many of you will be asked to shift your survey work to another block.
So please begin to gather your energy and enthusiasm for another season. Once we finish, the final product will be impressive. We’ll have a strong baseline knowledge of butterfly distribution across the state. We’ll publish it for the world to see and use. And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you were part of the most innovative insect mapping project Vermont has ever known.
There can be no better way to learn butterflies than to study them in front of your nose in the good company of other volunteers and experts. We’re finalizing our scrutiny of the 2005 data. That means we still need volunteers to review specimens and photos and their data. YOU DON'T NEED TO BE AN EXPERT TO DO THIS. And you will certainly learn a lot. Plus, some folks actually believe it’s fun to hang out with Kent and Bryan. We need folks to help in Woodstock most any day in the next two or three weeks. Contact Kent ([log in to unmask]).
If you don't think you'll be able to do any more survey work (we hope not) PLEASE take a few minutes to gather and return any of your unused voucher cards and glassine envelopes. Drop us a quick email so we don't send you materials for this season. We need them back. You can mail them to:
Kent McFarland
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
27023 Church Hill Road
Woodstock, VT 05091
[log in to unmask]
In our continuing effort to make you a better butterflyer and get a block done fast, we’re planning some group training and survey work this spring. When they won't be chasing birds, Bryan and Kent will organize group blockbusting sessions in under-surveyed areas of the state. We'd like to begin these in late May, so that those of you who join us can continue to learn some new skills and apply them during the rest of the field season. We'll also be doing some butterfly walks for various organizations. You'll be welcome to join those as well. So stay tuned for the dates. We'll post them at the VBS web site soon. And sometime put something up at the last minute too. We will of course inform everyone via the VTLEP email list serve too, so sign up at http://list.uvm.edu/archives/vtleps.html.
A major portion of VBS funding is through a program known as State Wildlife Grants (SWG). This is federal funding annually appropriated to each state for non-game wildlife research and conservation. The SWG program provides federal dollars to every state to support conservation aimed at preventing fish and wildlife populations from declining and avoiding potential listing under state or federal Endangered Species Acts
This grant is a 3:1 matching grant. In other words, we have to provide one dollar for every three federal dollars. The matching portion can be private grants and donations or in-kind donations such as the volunteer work that you do for this project.
For this upcoming field season we'll provide a form for each person to track volunteer time to help us meet our match. You'll receive this in your participant packet in April.  PLEASE send in this form with your data so we can meet our match. And, if you haven't done so, please send in last year’s form.
In order to make the best use of the State Wildlife Grants program, Congress charged each state and territory with developing a statewide Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS). These strategies will provide an essential foundation for the future of wildlife conservation and a stimulus to engage the states, federal agencies and other conservation partners to strategically think about their individual and coordinated roles in prioritizing conservation efforts in each state and territory.
VBS has contributed key butterfly information to this plan to help determine which species are of concern. The plan is finished and can be read at http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/swg_cwcs_report.cfm
Harry Pavulaan has been kind enough to help us identify the Spring Azure complex in Vermont.  We recently got an update from Harry and here is what he had to say (not for the Azure-taxonomy faint of heart):
David Wright and I have been in extensive discussion regarding a perplexing situation with Vermont Azures but I think we have a solution.  There appear to be five distinct flights or species in Vermont.  The first flight, Celastrina lucia, appears to be less common than I originally thought.  I'll explain.  The second flight to emerge is the Cherry Gall Azure (CGA), but the 2003-2004 series has very few of these.  There was previous confusion with a THIRD spring flight and I believe that many of the previous "lucia" and "Cherry Gall Azure" specimens I identified from the 2002 series may be yet ANOTHER entity.
Dave and I just published our Cherry Gall Azure paper.  It is now called "Celastrina serotina".  In Vermont, lucia and serotina (CGA) are easily distinguished.  However, there are many specimens which I could not assign to either.  These have the undersides of lucia, yet the uppersides of serotina (CGA).  This baffled me.  Pursuant to other research we are engaged in, it dawned on us that most of northern New England is dominated by a spring flight of yet another Azure!  It replaces serotina (CGA) in many areas, yet flies with it in some, but mainly it comes on the heels of serotina.  Research on similarly puzzling populations from New Brunswick to Maryland leads us to conclude that this is yet another Azure.  Now, going back through my collection, the pieces suddenly fall into place and things make more sense.  This Azure is identified in my annotations to the Vermont Azures as "?under study?".  Wherever that designation is encountered, it pertains to this interesting taxon.  The ironic thing is that it MAY actually have been named in older days, but we need to do a considerable amount of research to determine if an older name is available.  Similarly, in my annotations, "CGA" refers to what is now called Celastrina serotina.  Did you ever receive a copy of that paper? 
Unfortunately, my evaluation of the Vermont Azures was underway when the paper was published, so we are missing a considerable number of Vermont records in the paper.  A follow-up paper in the coming year or two, will update the paper from the Vermont survey and other field research.
Back to flights.  The fourth flight: the "early summer entity" is the most curious.  It is distinct from the fifth (August) flight of C. neglecta.  It emerges just prior to the time that neglecta emerges in southeastern New England (in early July), which is odd.  So it is not neglecta, in the true sense.  Vermont's August flight is true neglecta.  Boy, we're going to give these flights a good look at.
Which brings me to:  Norbert Kondla and Joe Belicek (both in Canada) are working on the DNA barcode project.  They are analyzing Celastrina for us, though results will be forthcoming and we don't know if any of the Celastrina flights will show DNA differences.  I've been sending them specimens from many locations.  In the Vermont specimen series, a handful of voucher envelopes contained duplicate specimens and have been sent to them for DNA analysis.  We're not sure how the "early summer entity" relates to August neglecta.  Neglecta was described from the Catskill Mountains in "summer" (where both the "early summer entity" flies at the end of June into July, and neglecta flies in late July into August), so could refer to either entity.
7. WEB PAGE PICK (ok so it is a PDF report…)
This report summarizes the current state of knowledge for the butterfly species of Maine and highlights species of conservation concern. Information on the occurrence of butterflies in Maine was reviewed from a variety of sources, including Brower (1974) and numerous other publications, specimens contained in most major northeastern museums, numerous private collections, data complied during Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) ecoregional survey project, and MDIFW’s rare species tracking database. A database (Excel) of nearly 9000 records contained in 42 fields was constructed from all records obtained from the above sources. These include both locality and date records (records with different dates from same locality) and 3904 township records. At the completion of the Maine Butterfly Survey Project this data will be shared with conservation partners and other interested parties. Brower (1974) listed 103 species of butterflies and skippers for Maine. Following a review of the sources listed above, an additional 11 species have been added bringing the state’s total list to 114 species. A few of the additions are the result of taxonomic changes that split formerly one species into two, but most result from new species discoveries. Of special note is the relatively high proportion (13%) of Maine butterflies and skippers that are extirpated (5 species) or state-listed as endangered or special concern (10 spp.), a result consistent with global trends elsewhere for the group (Stein et al. 2000, Thomas et al. 2004). Much has been learned regarding butterfly species rarity and threat in Maine since the previous state-listing process in 1997 (McCollough et al. 2003), and several revisions, mainly additions to the endangered and special concern list, are recommended based on the data summarized in this study. On average, 63 species of butterflies were found in each county in Maine. This represents about 55% of the 114 species of butterflies reported for the state. Highest species richness was recorded in Oxford Co. with 91 species (80% of all species known from Maine). Relatively high species richness was also recorded from Washington Co. (87 species) and Penobscot Co. (81 species). The least number of species was recorded from Sagadahoc Co. (37 species), Knox Co. (38), Lincoln Co. (43), and Androscoggin Co. (42). Only eight species were recorded from all counties in the state. However, collecting effort in Maine has not been uniform and the data compiled in this assessment should help to focus future sampling effort toward under-surveyed species and locales. Color fact sheets are provided (Appendix 1) for 35 breeding resident species in Maine that are considered endangered, special concern, extirpated, or rare. The fact sheets include information on identification, distribution, status, ecology, and threats and are intended to stimulate further protection and study of Maine’s rarest butterflies. Finally, township-scale distribution maps are provided for each of Maine’s 114 butterfly species, (Appendix 2), all of which require further distributional study.
Visit http://mainegov-images.informe.org/ifw/pdf/mainebutterflyatlasreport.pdf to read the report.
Vermont Butterfly Survey
Conservation Biology Department
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
27023 Church Hill Rd.
Woodstock, VT  05091
802-457-1053 x124

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