Density and Habitat Relationships of the Endemic White Mountain Fritillary (Boloria chariclea montinus) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)

Insects. 2017 Jun 4;8(2):57. doi: 10.3390/insects8020057.


We conducted point counts in the alpine zone of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA, to estimate the distribution and density of the rare endemic White Mountain Fritillary (Boloria chariclea montinus). Incidence of occurrence and density of the endemic White Mountain Fritillary during surveys in 2012 and 2013 were greatest in the herbaceous-snowbank plant community. Densities at points in the heath-shrub-rush plant community were lower, but because this plant community is more widespread in the alpine zone, it likely supports the bulk of adult fritillaries. White Mountain Fritillary used cushion-tussock, the other alpine plant community suspected of providing habitat, only sparingly. Detectability of White Mountain Fritillaries varied as a consequence of weather conditions during the survey and among observers, suggesting that raw counts yield biased estimates of density and abundance. Point counts, commonly used to study and monitor populations of birds, were an effective means of sampling White Mountain Fritillary in the alpine environment where patches of habitat are small, irregularly shaped, and widely spaced, rendering line-transect methods inefficient and difficult to implement.

Keywords: Boloria chariclea montinus; Lepidoptera; White Mountain Fritillary; butterfly; butterfly survey methods; conservation; distance sampling; point count; population monitoring.