Satyre fauve des Maritimes en péril
Le satyre fauve des Maritimes est l'une
des deux seules espèces canadiennes de papillons qui vivent exclusivement
dans les marais salés.
Deux plantes communes doivent y être présentes
afin que ce petit papillon puisse y vivre: la spartine
étalée et la lavande de mer, que l'on peut
trouver dans la plupart des marais salés de l'est du Canada; cependant,
le satyre fauve est loin d'y être abondant.
La totalité de la zone
d'existence de cette espèce couvre une aire de moins de deux kilomètres
carrés. Les raisons sont inconnues; cependant, étant donné l'expansion
urbaine et les polluants aquatiques, les populations de ce papillon sont
about how this
butterfly got it's
Episode 7 from
the Discovery Channel"
(photo: Discovery Channel)
Maritime Ringlet Butterfly
PHD in Entomology
The Maritime Ringlet Butterfly, Coenonympha nipisiquit McDunnough,
is one of only two species of butterflies in Canada that live
exclusively in salt marshes.
(photo: A. W. Thomas)
Full grown caterpillar
(about 3 cm long)
the Maritime Ringlet on salt meadow cord grass. The cryptic coloration of the
caterpillars make them very difficult
to find on their
The caterpillars of this insect feed on Salt Meadow Cord Grass
(Spartina patens) while the adults feed on nectar from the
flowers of Sea Lavender (Limonium nashii). These two
plants must be present for this small (wing span about 3.5 cm) tan
colored butterfly to exist in any given salt marsh. Although these are
common plants in most salt marshes in eastern Canada, the Maritime
Ringlet, in contrast, is far from widespread. This butterfly is known
from only 4 sites near the Chaleur Bay on the east coast of Canada.
global range of this species covers an area of less than two square
kilometers. It is unclear why this insect has such a restricted global
distribution, given the number of suitable salt marshes around Chaleur
Bay. The most plausible explanation is that the Maritime Ringlet is a
relict species from the previous ice age that now survives in only a few
salt marshes, with intervening populations having died out during the
retreat of the glaciers.
The three largest colonies of the Maritime Ringlet occur in salt
marshes completely within the city limits of expanding urban areas in
Bathurst and Beresford, New Brunswick. These salt marshes are largely
privately owned, residential, or recreational properties. Small scale
in-filling and clearing of adjacent buffer zone habitats by individual
property owners, runoff containing domestic herbicides, pesticides, and
lawn fertilizers represent a major threat to this species and are
difficult to regulate.
Populations of this butterfly are particularly
vulnerable to waterborne pollutants since the entire life cycle of this
insect is subjected to periodic flooding by salt water during the tide
cycle. All life stages of this insect are at some time exposed to salt
water and any pollutants in that water. Although the Maritime Ringlet
can at times be locally abundant, with continued urban expansion in this
region the cumulative effects of the these factors over time or a major
ecological disturbance such as an oil spill, could result in the
eventual extinction of this butterfly. It is for these reasons that the
Maritime Ringlet has been given endangered species status in New
Brunswick and by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife
(photo: A. W. Thomas)
resting on salt meadow
Steps to protect the
The endangered species legislation of New Brunswick protects the
Maritime Ringlet and its habitat. However, unlike other endangered
species, which often have restricted ranges, few have the major portion
of their distribution completely within developing urban areas.
Therefore, additional measures are required for the long-term survival
of this "urban" species. Over the past 7 years considerable
research has been conducted to obtain information critical for
developing a management plan for this species. The life cycle, resource
requirements of the immature stages and adults, female reproductive
potential, and micro-habitat requirements of the species have been
elucidated. Detailed population and vegetation studies have been done.
This baseline information is critical for detecting future changes in
population numbers and plant communities within the salt marsh.
long-term population-monitoring program has been in place since 1997 and
research has begun to try to establish new populations of the Maritime
Ringlet in unoccupied salt marshes in the region.
(photo: N. Arseneault)
The salt marsh habitat of the
Ringlet near Beresford, N.B. at high tide during
the full moon.
The highest tides occur when there is either a full moon or new moon. All
of the salt marsh vegetation and immature stages of the Maritime Ringlet
are covered with salt water
for several hours during high tide.
Much of the above research effort has been supported by The
Endangered Species Recovery Fund of the World Wildlife Fund, The New
Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund, The New Brunswick Wildlife Council
Trust Fund, Noranda, The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources
& Energy and the Canadian Forest Service. Two populations of the
Maritime Ringlet at the Daly Point Reserve and Carron Point are
protected through corporate stewardship agreements with Noranda and the
Province of New Brunswick. These salt marshes and surrounding habitats,
which are owned by Noranda, have been established as nature reserves.
Steps have been initiated to establish stewardship agreements with the
numerous landowners of the salt marsh in the estuary of the Peters River
in Bathurst and Bereford, which is home to the largest population of the
Maritime Ringlet. Gilles Godin, the regional biologist of the N.B.
Department of Natural Resources and Energy in Bathurst is playing a lead
role in this process. Numerous personnel from the Province,
municipalities of Bathurst and Beresford, and non-government
organizations have played a critical role in securing funding for
research and establishment of current stewardship agreements.
hoped that these continuing efforts will ensure that this unusual
butterfly will continue to fly through these salt marshes in the future.
(Photo: Reggie Webster)
The salt marsh habitat of the Maritime Ringlet
near Beresford, N.B. at low tide.
Note the housing development along the barrier
beach adjacent to the salt marsh. The entire barrier beach is
now developed. Development is also
occurring along the inland side of
the salt marsh
Webster is a self-employed Entomologist. In recent years
his work has focused on the conservation of rare and endangered species and insect biodiversity.
He has been involved with projects with the Province of New Brunswick, the
State of Maine and local conservation groups.
In 1993 he secured funding from the
WWF to study the
biology of the Maritime Ringlet in Bathurst, N.B. At the time this insect was proposed for listing as endangered in N.B.
He continues to study the biology and ecology of this species, as well as conduct inventories of
Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) and Coleoptera (Beetles) at several
localities in N.B., and surveys for rare Lepidoptera for the State of Maine.