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

New Mexico Project

Using a metapopulation analysis and risk assessment to improve consevation of the Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly, a Species of Greatest Conservation Need

January 2012 - May 2013


Participating Agencies

  • Science Support Program-Quick Response Project

The student, Rachel Ryan, developed novel genetic markers and has applied these in metapopulation theory to guide management decisions that focus on which populations of the butterfly are at the greatest risk of extirpation. A portion of her work has shown that local inbreeding is the result of a series of droughts (2006 and 2011) and that inbreeding is reducing the fitness of these populations by reducing colonization behavior. The arid southwest has begun to experience the effects of a warming climate. Thus, her research has also focused on identifying suitable habitat to facilitate adaptation of the subspecies to climate change.