Greenish blues. Pale swallowtails. Sierra sulphurs. Butterflies might not immediately jump to mind when you picture Yosemite wildlife, but the park supports a diverse array of the colorful creatures. That diversity and abundance, however, is on the decline.

Butterflies aren’t just lovely to look at. As pollinators, they perform a critical ecosystem function. They also serve as bellwethers for environmental shifts. This grant allowed park scientists to take an in-depth look at how the insects are faring, especially in alpine zones, where they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and in fire-prone areas, which often attract butterflies. Citizen scientists contributed to the research through the Yosemite Butterfly Count, an annual summer event in the high country. This project also included the development of a mobile app that enables users to identify Yosemite-dwelling butterfly species.

Your contribution funded important research focused on improving scientific understanding of Yosemite’s changing butterfly communities and informing efforts to protect pollinators and other wildlife.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and University of Wisconsin.

Breezy Jackson

Wildlife Ecologist

Project Notes

Yosemite butterflies are both an aesthetic and an ecological natural resource. By studying their response to changing climate and historic forest fires, we hope to create management strategies to conserve them, as well as other species that may respond more slowly to changing conditions.