Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Forest Science (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Andrew J Storer


The federally endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis Nabokov) persists in rare oak/pine grassland communities spanning across the Great Lakes region, relying on host plant wild blue lupine (Lupinus perennis). Conservation efforts since 1992 have led to the development of several programs that restore and monitor habitat. This study aims to evaluate Karner blue habitat selection in the state of Wisconsin and develop high-resolution tools for use in conservation efforts. Spatial predictive models developed during this study accurately predicted potential habitat across state properties based on soils and canopy cover, and identified ~51-100% of Karner blue occurrences based on lupine and shrub/tree cover, and focal nectar plant abundance. When evaluated relative to American bison (Bison bison), Karner blues and lupine were more likely to occur in areas of low disturbance, but aggregated where bison were recently present in areas of moderate/high disturbance. Lupine C:N ratio increased relative to cover of shrubs/trees and focal nectar plant abundance and decreased relative to cover of groundlitter. Karner blue density increased with lupine C:N ratio, decreased with nitrogen content, and was not related to phenolic levels. We strongly suggest that areas of different soil textures must be managed differently and that maintenance techniques should generate a mix of shrubs/tree cover (10-45%), groundlitter cover (~10-40%), >5% cover of lupine, and establish an abundance of focal nectar plants. This study provides unique tools for use in conservation and should aid in focusing management efforts and recovery of this species.