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Conservation of Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly (Hamm)

Mitchell’s satyr butterfly (Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii French, 1889) is a federally endangered species known historically from a limited number of sites in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. The more recent discovery of similar butterflies in Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama has greatly expanded the range and raised questions about the taxonomic status and phylogeography of the species. Based on morphological characteristics and limited molecular data all of these populations are currently being treated as N. m. mitchllii. Developing a clear understanding of the genetic structure of these populations is critical for conservation of this species at local and national scales. To achieve this, we developed a technique for non-lethal sampling of DNA from butterflies. In summer 2008 I collected samples from over 300 individual Mitchell’s satyr butterflies. These samples represent 24 populations and were from all five states where it is currently extant. We will sequence a number of loci from these butterflies and analyze these data to examine postglacial biogeography and examine the genetic variability of the extant populations of N. m. mitchellii.

Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly