Arizona Wildlife Notebook Revised – #Wildlife, #Arizona, #Conservation

Arizona Wildlife Notebook

A new edition of the “Arizona Wildlife Notebook” is available.

In the year, 2015, lethal heat waves and storms made it clear that humanity was changing the Earth.  Anyone who paid attention to the news knew that Earth’s animals and plants were disappearing.

Animal Declines

This figure from the review by the World Wildlife Fund (2014) shows that, from 1970 to 2010, Earth’s animals declined by 52%.

I have come to believe that nature conservation is the great challenge of our time. Human beings are imposing a mass extinction that will eliminate almost all animals on Earth. We may not be able to stop this, but I believe that the Notebook will be useful for anyone who hasn’t given up and wishes to work to protect Earth’s creatures.

Arizona Species Conservation Status

For this edition of the Notebook, I added more information on conservation.  The table below shows group status for species that AZGFD specialists consider critically imperiled (S1), imperiled (S2), and vulnerable (S3).  It also shows group status according to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for Threatened (LT) and Endangered (LE) species.  I didn’t include butterflies, moths, damselflies, and dragonflies in this table because the status of most species in those groups is unknown.

Many species that the AZGFD says are critically imperiled are not given national recognition and protection by the U. S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).  It seems that only after species are mostly gone that protection becomes available.  Thus, the ESA achieves very little overall protection from biodiversity loss.


Species Group

Total  minus

Exotic & Extinct







18 (58%)




260 (58%)




40 (100%)




27 (40%)




64 (34%)




35 (46%)




6 (67%)




450 (52%)


The third column shows how many species AZGFD considers at risk.  For instance, all native Arizona fish species are at risk, and about one-third of native Arizona mammals are at risk.  Being “at risk” usually means that numbers are dropping.  The principal causes are construction of buildings and roads, and invasive plants and animals.

Click–Arizona Wildlife Notebook–for a free copy of the 168-page book formatted as a PDF “fillable form.” If you like the book, tell others. Write a review for Amazon: , or Goodreads:  If you would like to review a printed copy of the book, send a note using the form below.  Thank you.

Now that you’ve downloaded the book, you have a conversation-starter for tonight’s warm-up party for World Animal Day!

April 2015 ranks as 4th-warmest on record for Earth

Take note of the cold spot in the North Atlantic. From the movie The Day After Tomorrow: Terry Rapson: “We found something extraordinary… extraordinary and disturbing, that is. You recall what you said in New Delhi about how polar melting might disrupt the North Atlantic Current?”
Jack Hall: “Yes.”
Terry Rapson: “Well… I think it’s happening.”

Summit County Citizens Voice

Year to-date is record warm

sdfg Only a few small areas of the globe were cooler than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — April’s globally averaged temperature was the fourth-warmest on record, at 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, according to federal climate trackers releasing the monthly Global State of the Climate update.

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Prevent Extinction of Unique Butterfly Species

Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe
Goal: Protect brilliant unsilvered fritillary butterfly species by declaring it an endangered species
The unsilvered fritillary is a species of butterfly native to California.  Source:

GR:  Please sign the petition.

Butterfly Indicators of Ecosystem Change

Butterfly Canaries in the Earth Ecosystem Coalmine

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Guest post by Leslie Olsen

Predicting the effects of climate change and other human impacts on Earth ecosystems is a critical goal for policy makers, scientists, and environmentalists. Some effects, such as weather extremes and biodiversity decline are becoming clear to everyone. One group of species, the butterflies, is especially sensitive to environmental change, and scientists are using the group to gauge the effects of the changes on other species.

Like canaries in a coalmine, butterflies can serve as valuable indicators of significant changes. Butterflies are easy to see. Moreover, their metabolism and short life span make their numbers an especially sensitive gauge of environmental changes. When a butterfly population falls, other species may follow. Fluctuations in temperature patterns, temperature extremes, droughts, floods, and severe storms affect butterfly populations throughout North America. Studies on the impact of climate changes on insects and butterflies are particularly rare, but recent data and observations are spurring research.

Changes in butterfly emergence, range, life cycle, feeding habits and diversity can indicate harmful environmental changes are occurring. For example, butterfly life cycle stages are tied to the availability of certain plants; even subtle changes in plant species abundance is reflected in butterfly health, color, and number. The animals and birds dependent on butterfly populations are directly affected.

Monarch (Danaus Plexippus)

Monarch (Danaus Plexippus)

A familiar butterfly, the Monarch, migrates almost three thousand miles every year and has suddenly declined because of pesticides (first two references below) and forest thinning in its winter home territory in Mexico.

Another butterfly, the Poweshiek skipperling, once plentiful across the Canadian prairies had declined to fewer than 200 individuals, most of them in Manitoba (Toronto Star).
Last year, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced the extinction of two butterfly species, the Zestos skipper and the Rockland grass skipper.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia, the Université de Sherbrooke and the University of Ottawa, in a study of more than 200 species of butterflies and weather data from 130 years “found butterflies possess widespread temperature sensitivity, with flight season occurring an average of 2.4 days earlier per degree Celsius of temperature increase” (UBC. 2013).

Heather Kharouba, lead author noted that butterflies “provide an early warning signal for how other wildlife may respond to climate change” (UBC). The impact of warmer temperatures causes butterflies “to emerge and start their active flight season earlier in the year, and if they emerge too early, they could encounter frost and die. Or they might emerge before the food plants they rely on appear and starve” (Ibid).

As more researchers begin studying butterflies, the links to other species and whole ecosystems will become clearer and will help guide nature conservation plans and policies.  Thus, our floating jewels not only add grace and beauty to our lands, they are on the front line of our battle to save Earth’s wildlife and ecosystems.

Butterfly References