Last summer, I followed around a North Carolina State University PhD student in the woods of Fort Bragg as he monitored amphibians at ephemeral ponds. That adventure turned into this story about imperiled Carlona gopher frogs. But another story was waiting in the wings, as it were. His advisor, Nick Haddad of NC State, was working on helping other small creatures on the base. It turns out that Fort Bragg is home to the only known populations of St. Francis’ satyrs in the world. They are a sub-species of the Mitchell’s satyr, and were once thought to be extinct in the wild.
Soldiers at Fort Bragg practice exploding munitions in artillery impact zones within the base. Smalls-arms fire practice takes place in firing ranges that ring the larger artillery impact zones. Native wildlife love these zones, and this is where populations of St. Francis’ satyr was found. Haddad and Brian Ball, an endangered species biologist at Fort Bragg, believe that fires sparked in these zones mimic the native fire regimes of old, and maintain small populations of once-widespread native species.
You can read the full story on this butterfly here. (Best read in “two-pages continuous” mode in your PDF viewer.)