Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 299–308 | Cite as

Status of the regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia) and effects of fire management on its abundance in northeastern Kansas, USA

  • Alexis F. L. A. Powell
  • William H. Busby
  • Kelly Kindscher
Original Paper


The Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia), which once occupied prairies and meadows in North America from the upper Great Plains to the Atlantic coast, has disappeared in recent decades from nearly the entirety of the eastern half of its range and has declined westward. In the Great Plains, where the species is limited to native prairie remnants, several large populations are thought to exist, but patterns of occurrence and abundance in the region have not been described in detail. We surveyed prairies within a three county area of northeastern Kansas using distance-sampling along line transects and found Regal Fritillaries present at 70 of 87 sites. Population density varied considerably among sites but was generally much higher at those that had not been burned in the past year. Despite the loss of >99% of its original prairie landcover and the small sizes of remnants \((\bar x = 7.1\,{\hbox{ha),}}\) we estimate that our study area supports a globally significant population of ∼12,000 adult individuals. Given the rapidity of decline of Regal Fritillary populations elsewhere, this study establishes important population benchmarks and a practical protocol for future monitoring efforts.


Distance sampling Prescribed burning Regal Fritillary Speyeria idalia Tallgrass prairie remnants 



This work was supported by a State Wildlife Grant from the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (KDWP) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to the Kansas Biological Survey for a project, A Natural Areas Inventory of Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte Counties in Northeast Kansas. Special thanks go to KDWP staff Carl Magnuson and Ed Miller. For expert advice and technical assistance we thank Jennifer Delisle, Jennifer Dropkin, Craig Freeman, and Mike Houts; two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to the land owners who granted access to their properties, without which this study would not have been possible. Many individuals contributed through involvement in the inventory project as field workers and office support personnel. They include Mandi Atkinson, Kristopher Fisk, Stephanie Fritts, Bernadette Kuhn, Quinn Long, Jennifer Moody-Weis, Michelle Moran, Dawn Morningstar, Caleb Morse, Sun-Yurp Park, and Vaughn Salisbury.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexis F. L. A. Powell
    • 1
    • 2
  • William H. Busby
    • 1
  • Kelly Kindscher
    • 1
  1. 1.Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological SurveyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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