With a range spanning the Midwest and into the East, the Karner blue butterfly once covered its habitats in a sea of blue. Today, people will find the once dominate Karner blue population on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species list after the population declined by 99% over the past 100 years.
For instances such as the Karner blue, conservation plans often look at the species through a fine magnifying glass identifying the causes for the Karner blue's decline and how to address those causes. The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, however, took a coarse-scale approach by committing to preserve and restore more than 200 sites representative of presettlement terrestrial plant communities unique to Indiana.
The Indiana chapter's conservation plan effectively protects the dry, sandy soils typical of oak savannahs and pine barrens that sustain the Karner blue's main source of food the Wild blue lupine, while restoring hundreds of other plant communities that provide food and habitat for additional butterfly species of interest such as the Regal fritillary, the Mottled dusky wing, and the Dorcas copper.
The Indiana coarse-scale conservation plan enhances connectivity between Indiana's many plant communities and ecosystems and in effect offsets the many threats insect communities face in fragmented landscapes. With more land for species such as the Karner blue and the Regal fritillary to spread across, the Indiana chapter expects to see an increased presence of these unique species.