Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Maine
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Maine Project

Environmental characteristics and population ecology of shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora floribunda) in Maine. (Collaborator: Judith Rhymer, UMaine)

September 2008 - May 2013


Participating Agencies

  • Maine DIFW
  • Cooperative Research Units
  • University of Maine
  • TNC

Clayton’s copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas claytoni) is a Maine state endangered species that relies exclusively on shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa) as its host plant. This shrub typically is found on the edges of wetlands rich in calcium carbonate or limestone. Calcareous wetland habitats that support large, persistent stands of D. fruticosa are rare in Maine. Currently only 21 sites in Maine are known to support large stands of D. fruticosa, and L. d. claytoni populations have been observed at only nine of these. Conservation and recovery of L. d. claytoni depends in part on the ecological integrity of its habitat. It is unknown if there are other factors in addition to the presence of the host plant that contribute to the suitability of a site for Clayton’s copper. To make effective conservation recommendations, we need more information about environmental site characteristics of Clayton’s copper habitat. By comparing the quality of the habitat and plants selected by L. d. claytoni for nectaring and egg-laying to randomly selected plants, this research aims to address the following questions: Is there an association between butterfly occurrence and the hydrological environment, pore water chemistry, peat chemistry and morphology, and plant assemblages of a wetland site? Is there an association between butterfly occurrences and the age structure, phenology, and size of the shrubby cinquefoil stands within a wetland site? Is there an association between butterfly occurrence and cinquefoil morphology or “robustness,” quality and quantity of flowers, quality and quantity of leaves, and location of individual shrubby cinquefoil plants in the wetland? Project objectives are: 1) Compare hydroperiod, pore water chemistry, peat chemistry/ morphology, and plant species associated with shrubby cinquefoil among wetlands sites and between wetland sites inhabited and uninhabited by Clayton’s copper butterfly. 2) Compare age structure, phenology, and size of stand among shrubby cinquefoil populations and between populations inhabited and uninhabited by Clayton’s copper. 3) Compare morphology /”robustness”, quality of flowers and leaves, and location of shrubby cinquefoil plants within wetlands inhabited and uninhabited by Clayton’s copper and between used and randomly selected plants in wetlands inhabited by Clayton’s copper.

Research Publications Publication Date
Drahovzal, S.A., C.S. Loftin, and J. Rhymer. 2015. Environmental predictors of shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa) habitat and quality as host for Maine’s endangered Clayton’s copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas claytoni). Wetlands Ecology and Management, DOI:10.1007/s11273-015-9427-1 | Download July 2015
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Drahovzal, S. 2013. Environmental assessment of circumneutral wetlands with shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa), host plant of the endangered Clayton's copper butterfly (Lycaena dorcas claytoni). M.S. thesis, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, 145 pp. May 2013