The goal of this project is to produce an inventory of butterfly species in Saguaro National Park through a series of standardized butterfly surveys to gather information on species richness, abundance, and distribution. The surveys will be used to establish the baseline for a repeatable long-term monitoring project to monitor the impacts of weather and habitat change on butterfly populations over time.
Many butterfly species react quickly to changes in their environment and can serve as excellent indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health. The Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park ranges in elevation from 2,700 ft to 8,700 ft with 6 biotic communities as diverse as desert scrub and mixed conifer forests. This habitat heterogeneity allows for an incredible degree of biodiversity, and over a quarter of North America’s butterfly species have the potential to occur in the park. The intern’s primary work will be to walk a set of standardized transects through different regions of the park, documenting butterfly species and abundance and producing a photographic record for as many species as possible. The intern will work alongside an experienced entomologist to identify butterflies to species and to produce a dataset that documents butterfly abundance and distribution in the park. Additionally, the intern will work alongside park Resource Management and Interpretation staff to produce content for the park’s social media feeds.