Changing Planet

Miami Blue butterfly discovered in Cuba amidst concerns it may have become extinct in the USA after Hurricane Irma.

From Marc Minno

In early September Hurricane Irma left a wide path of destruction through the West Indies and Florida.  This category 5 storm not only devastated homes for people, but also ravaged natural habitats, which are homes for unique species of wildlife.  The Florida Keys and the northern coast of Cuba were particularly hard hit.
In Florida, only a few wild colonies of the Endangered Miami Blue were known to occur on remote, low-lying islands in the Lower Keys before the storm.  Now those colonies most likely have been wiped out by the hurricane.  Fortunately, in 2015 and 2016, TREE Institute conservation scientists and volunteers found Miami Blue butterflies in several coastal areas of northeastern Cuba.  However, this area was also impacted by Hurricane Irma.  A single Miami Blue spotted in this region of Cuba during the recovery from the storm is a hopeful sign.  The optimism comes as a result of multiple locations of Miami Blue habitats that haven’t been developed or altered.
In a few weeks, Dr. Marc Minno will be leading a small team of volunteers to Cuba to search for this butterfly.  Together with Cuban scientists they plan to validate how many Miami Blue populations still survive there.  Other validation trips to Cuba and the Florida Keys are planned for 2018 as well.  Anyone interested in helping with the search should contact TREE Institute International at
info@treeinstitute.org

 

Stuart Pimm is the Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. He is a world leader in the study of present day extinctions and what we can do to prevent them. Pimm received his BSc degree from Oxford University in 1971 and his Ph.D from New Mexico State University in 1974. Pimm is the author of nearly 300 scientific papers and four books. He is one of the most highly cited environmental scientists. Pimm wrote the highly acclaimed assessment of the human impact to the planet: The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth in 2001. His commitment to the interface between science and policy has led to his testimony to both House and Senate Committees on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act. He has served on National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration and currently works with their Big Cats Initiative. In addition to his studies in Africa, Pimm has worked in the wet forests of Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil for decades and is a long-term collaborator of the forest fragmentation project north of Manaus, Brazil. Pimm directs SavingSpecies, a 501c3 non-profit that uses funds for carbon emissions offsets to fund local conservation groups to restore degraded lands in areas of exceptional tropical biodiversity. His international honours include the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2010), the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006).

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