Dr. Nick Haddad,
News Services, 919/515-3470.
13 , 2002
Butterfly Lives Where Fire, Damage Abound
a paradox of nature: An artillery impact zone
on the grounds of Fort
Bragg, N.C. - an area so dangerous that only
a select few are allowed to enter - is also the
home of North Carolina's only endangered butterfly.
Nick Haddad, assistant professor of zoology
at North Carolina State University, is trying
to find out more about the Saint Francis' Satyr
butterfly and make some sense of its paradoxical
has been granted access to Fort Bragg to research
the butterfly and its natural habitat. His research
will most likely be vital in preserving the butterfly's
population for future generations, since it is
currently the only study researching the population
of the endangered butterfly.
Bragg has several characteristics that make it a unique
home for the endangered butterfly, Haddad says. The
St. Francis' Satyr favors a marshy, open environment
that is not shaded by dense forest. Today, artillery
sets off fires that spread throughout the butterfly's
landscape, keeping the woody vegetation down and the
area open inside the artillery impact areas.
of this type may have been more common throughout North
Carolina in the early 20th century, Haddad says, due
to fires and the dam-building work of beavers, which
both helped maintain the open areas favored by the butterfly.
in many areas these disturbances simply stopped - due
to extermination of beavers by humans and cessation
of fires due to agricultural activity, Haddad says -
and once-open areas became forests. So the butterfly's
habitat became restricted to the artillery impact areas
of Fort Bragg, Haddad says.
however, poses a difficult problem for the butterfly.
"It's a catch-22," Haddad said. "Butterflies
need fire to keep the habitat open. On the other hand,
if you burn the habitat and there are butterflies in
it, you risk losing the butterflies."
little is known about the butterfly's population, so
one of Haddad's research goals is to come up with an
estimate of its population size. Researching the population
is a daunting task - the area surrounding its home is
full of dense briar patches, poison sumac and murky
waters. The Saint Francis' Satyr is not like other,
more active butterflies, Haddad says. It tends to be
very sedentary and enjoys hiding in the grass.
found, the butterflies are captured, carefully marked
and returned to the environment. Haddad's research team
will later attempt to recapture the marked butterflies,
using the figures to statistically determine a population
know that the population of butterflies in the artillery
impact area is much greater than surrounding areas,
and the impact area is inaccessible, Haddad says. But
- in another chapter of the paradoxical life of the
Saint Francis' Satyr - while the lack of access restricts
the study of these butterflies, it also protects them
from the nets of butterfly collectors.
the Saint Francis' Satyr from the endangered species
list requires that the number of butterflies remains
stable or increases for 10-15 years. For the population
to increase, the butterfly must find another place to
live besides Fort Bragg, Haddad says.
optimistic that either there is habitat on or off base
that is just too far away for natural migration, or
that we could restore sites using techniques that people
have already used," Haddad said.
determine if there are other places that are suitable
to sustain the St. Francis' Satyr, Haddad must determine
what the butterfly eats. As reclusive as the butterfly
is, its caterpillar is even more shy. Its food source
is unknown because the caterpillar has never been seen.
we watch where the female lays its eggs. The young caterpillars
don't move far so it is assumed that females would lay
eggs on the food plant - these don't," Haddad says.
He plans to study a captive population of the butterfly
to help solve this problem.
is not lost for the butterfly, however. The Saint Francis'
Satyr has a distinct advantage in that it lives in the
Sandhills region of North Carolina, an area that is
not widely used for agriculture and therefore easy for
conservationists to purchase. Haddad says that natural
disturbances are also on the rise.
are plenty of beavers in the Sandhills. There is fire
throughout Fort Bragg, the Sandhills game lands and
other managed lands in the Sandhills," he says.
for now, the St. Francis' Satyr manages to survive,
barely, in an area of destruction.