Dr. William H. Baltosser, professor in the UA Little Rock Department of Biology, has received $7,434 from the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission to monitor Diana Fritillary and Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies following extensive vegetation thinning at the Jordan Road Track of the Terre Noire Natural Area in Clark County, Arkansas. His area of study is part of the 700-acre Terre Noire Preserve, a blackland prairie that houses 400 different species of plants and wildflowers and numerous animals of special concern. The Jordan Road Track, the primary focus of Dr. Baltosser’s research, was altered in February 2016 and he will study the response of both species of fritillary to these habitat modifications.
Dr. Baltosser has conducted studies of the Diana Fritillary and Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies in the Terre Noire Natural Area for over four years. He has acquired data of important nectar sources in late spring and early summer using GPS mapping and conducted surveys of both species of butterfly annually since 2010. He will use this research as the basis for comparison in this current project, which will be expanded to further monitor the occurrence and abundance of violets (the larval host plant of both species of fritillary).
By tracking the distribution, abundance, and seasonality of activity of both butterfly species along the Jordan Road Track, collecting data from nectar surveys, and examining the abundance and availability of the larval host plant upon which both species depend, Dr. Baltosser will have data that will bolster preservation and stewardship efforts. The extensive data collected from this and previous surveys of the area, given their scope and continuity, will enable managers to assess the impact of logging and vegetative thinning on a multitude of other protected natural areas and private lands throughout Arkansas.