Less than 200 Poweshiek skipperling butterflies remain in Canada
Professional photos and b-roll of researchers and Poweshiek skipperling
WINNIPEG, July 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Researchers from both Canada and the
United States are rushing to figure out why a small, brown and orange
winged butterfly no bigger than a toonie is dying off quickly.
Listed as an endangered species in Manitoba in 2012 and listed
nationally as threatened, the Poweshiek skipperling butterfly
population has dropped dramatically throughout North America. In
Canada, It is known to only inhabit 17 fields in southeastern Manitoba,
primarily on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Tall Grass Prairie
Natural Area. In the United States, the closest population appears only
in a handful of sites in Iowa and North Dakota.
Researchers from the University of Winnipeg, Minnesota Zoo and
University of Michigan are now just outside of Winnipeg performing
valuable research on this declining species. Since the adult butterfly
is active for only two to three weeks, researchers are using this
critical time to collect information on the Poweshiek skipperling's
genetics and genetic diversity to save this important critter from
"While many people think of the panda as an endangered species, the
Poweshiek skipperling is rarer and right here in our backyards," said
Cary Hamel, conservation science manager with the Nature Conservancy of
Canada in Manitoba. "If we don't figure out why the population is
declining so quickly and why the butterfly is dying off, we'll have
lost another important species that used to live in the tall grass
prairie. The cross-border collaboration with researchers will hopefully
save this species from further decline or extinction."
"This endangered butterfly is facing the real and immediate threat of
global extinction, not only in Manitoba but across its entire range,"
said Erik Runquist a Butterfly Conservation Biologist at the Minnesota
Zoo. "No populations appear stable, so the Minnesota Zoo is partnering
internationally to establish emergency conservation breeding
populations at the Zoo to serve as an "insurance policy" against
further future losses in the wild. Butterflies are sensitive to
environmental change and serve as "canary in the coalmine" indicators
of prairie health. Poweshiek skipperlings are not the only prairie
butterfly in steep decline, and immediate action and cooperation is
needed to secure their futures."
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading land
conservation organization, working to protect our most important
natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its
partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (more than
1 million hectares), coast to coast.
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For video footage of the Poweshiek skipperling and researchers, click
SOURCE: Nature Conservancy of Canada
For further information:
Nature Conservancy of Canada