21 June 2021

Achieving Recovery for the San Bruno Elfin Butterfly

Written by: Samantha Padilla

I am in the Directorate Fellows Program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I am currently in the listing and recovery division working with the Sacramento office virtually from San Diego. This opportunity was a perfect match because I was keen on staying in San Diego this summer so this opportunity allowed me to gain valuable experiences in the field of conservation while being able to stay close to my family. The project I am working on is to produce documents regarding the recovery of the San Bruno Elfin Butterfly, listed as endangered.

The San Bruno Elfin is located in the coastal mountains near San Francisco and was listed as endangered in the 70s due to population reduction caused largely by habitat fragmentation alongside other threats. This species is particularly sensitive to habitat changes due to its sole reliance on its host plant, sedum spathulifolium, the only plant that the butterfly will lay its eggs on and the only plant that the caterpillars of this species can eat. My job now is to coordinate with local partners to identify actions that will aid in the species’ recovery. At the end of this fellowship I will produce a monitoring protocol, conceptual model, and a recovery implementation strategy.

The goal of the monitoring protocol is to help guide people conducting San Bruno Elfin caterpillar population surveys. Right now all of the different sites have teams that collect data in different ways. When the time comes for the Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a species status assessment or a five year review, the data is not comparable because the surveyors had different methods of capturing data. This calls for the necessity of a standardized method of collecting data in order to make the data comparable across different sites over time so that we can elucidate real trends in the species’ population size and it’s influences. The purpose of the conceptual model is to help visualize the threats and how specific recovery actions can mitigate the harm inflicted by the threats. The conceptual model will be contextualized within the recovery implementation strategy to help understand the relationships between different actions surrounding the species. The recovery implementation strategy will be a synthesis of recovery actions that have and are taking place, the document will crosswalk current recovery actions with the 2020 recovery plan in order to identify which threats have not yet been mitigated. The recovery plan will contain proposed recovery actions to account for any current recovery deficits the species faces.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Contact Us