Progress and Results:
The Regal fritillary was once an abundant butterfly species of the prairie biome with a range that
extended from the Canadian border to Oklahoma and east to the Atlantic coast. Populations have declined
approximately 99% in the prairie region and it is nearly extirpated from the eastern portion of its former range.
However, populations within northeastern Kansas remain relatively abundant and are considered stable. The
Regal fritillary is univoltine with adults flying in Kansas from June to mid-September. Larvae hatch in fall,
enter larval diapause and then emerge in spring to begin feeding. The larval host plants of Regal fritillary
are all violets (Viola spp.), with Kansas populations feeding on Prairie violet (V. pedatifoda).
Prairie violet is a small (<8 cm), perennial plant characteristic of native tallgrass communities within Kansas.
Causes of Regal fritillary decline remain largely undetermined but like many oligophagous butterflies associated
with native plant communities, the decline of this species appears to be the result of habitat loss and the
subsequent breakdown of metapopulation dynamics. The large tracts of native tallgrass prairie at the Fort Riley
Military Reserve (FRMR) and Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) offer a unique research opportunity to
examine the habitat-use patterns and metapopulation dynamics of a stable population of this imperiled species.
The objectives of the research are to (1) provide spatially explicit estimates of the current distribution and
relative abundance patterns of the Regal fritillary and its host plant, prairie violet at the FRMR and KPBS;
(2) Provide baseline population estimates of the Regal fritillary within the FRMR; (3) provide models that
identify habitat features and management practices that influence the density of adult Regal fritillary within
the FRMR; (4) provide models that identify habitat features and management practices that influence the
occurrence of late instar larvae among discrete clusters of prairie violet within the FRMR and KPBS ; and
(5) produce information products on the effectiveness of current and potential management strategies for the
conservation of Regal fritillary populations within the FRMR. Using GIS and distribution modeling, we produced
a predictive distribution map of Prairie violet within our study area and inferred on the importance of the
environmental variables that contributed to the model. These results will be evaluated and improved with field
validations of prediction areas. Further, these model predictions will be used to locate Regal fritillary
larvae among host plant clusters to examine microhabitat conditions suitable for larval development.
Additionally, we will use repeated-modified Pollard walks to survey adult Regal fritillaries and estimate
adult abundance and detectability.
McCullough, K. 2016. Re-Thinking Regal Fritillary conservation and management: Habitat characteristics and the impact of disturbance regime on an imperiled grassland butterfly. Annual Graduate Research Forum, Division of Biology.
McCullough, Kelsey. 2016. Habitat Characteristics and the Impact of Disturbance Regime on an Imperiled Grassland Butterfly: Re-Thinking Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) Conservation and Management. Kansas Natural Resources Conference, Wichita, KS.
McCullough, K. 2015. Gradient habitat modeling of Regal Fritillary and larval host plant using a distribution modeling approach with notes on life history attributes. Annual Graduate Research Forum, Division of Biology.
McCullough, K., G. Albanese, and D.A. Haukos. 2015. Gradient habitat modeling of regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia) and larval host plant using distribution modeling approach with notes on life history sttributes. Annual meeting of the Central Mountains and Plains Section of The Wildlife Society, Manhattan, Kansas.
McCullough, K., and G. Albanese. 2015. Gradient habitat modeling of Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) and larval host plant using a distribution modeling approach with notes on life history attributes. National Military Fish & Wildlife Association Conference. Omaha, NE.
McCullough, K., and G. Albanese. 2015. Gradient habitat modeling of Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) and larval host plant using a distribution modeling approach with notes on life history attributes. Kansas Natural Resources Annual Conference. Wichita, KS.
Harris, Robert III. 2015. The Effect of Management Regime on Sex Ratios among Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) Populations in the Central Great Plains. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Kansas State University, Division of Biology. (Mentors: Gene Albanese, Davis Haukos).