Learning and teaching
Before the opportunity of displaying Silverspot Butterfly information at the Oregon Zoo in Portland came up, I was not very familiar with this specie at all. I didn’t even know about all the range of pollinator species which population numbers are declining due to several causes, mostly related to human development. Probably, most people have heard about the potential struggles that humans may face in the case of pollinators extinctions, but most of this information is related to honey bees and bumble bees, however, there is a lack of wide spread research to understand all the reasons that are killing a wide range pollinators and the impact of their extinction in native plants, especially the impact of their decline in plants important for human’s consumption.
The Oregon Silversport Butterfly is a perfect example on how sensitive species population are facing extinction, because they can adapt to new environmental and ecological conditions induced by human development. Coastal ecosystems are the most threatened ecosystems, in the world more than 90% of the human population is established on coasts. The Silverspot Butterfly habitat where the salt-spray meadows and coastal mountain prairie habitats in Washington, Oregon and North California, today there are only five locations with suitable habitat for Silverspot Butterflies one in Washington, three in Oregon and one in California; only the ones in Oregon and Washington still have populations of Oregon Silverspot Butterfly. The food specificity of the larvae and caterpillar for early blue violets leaves; and the sensitivity of the plant to the effects of tall grass invasive species and urbanization, has contributed to the extirpation of the species in most of the coastal habitats.
One of the things I find most rewarding is when I implement an outreach education program about one of the threatened or endangered species at the Siuslaw National Forest, sometimes I feel that I am learning more about those species and their ecosystems than the people I am outreaching to. The research done before hand or after delivering talks for repeated occasions helps me understand the species more and more, but it also brings more questions about them, as a result of this internship at Siuslaw National Forest I believe that there is still a lot of work to do and ideas I could contribute to the conservation of this species.