The study assessed changes in inflorescence length of kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) new growth and the abundance of brown elfin butterflies (Callophrys augustinas) at the Ma-le’l and Lanphere Dunes. The research took place at the Ma-le’l and Lanphere Dunes in Humboldt County where a surrogate species for the seaside hoary elfin–the brown elfin–is abundant. In the larval stage, the brown elfin feeds on the new growth of kinnikinnick. Our study set out to analyze the food resource availability for brown elfin butterfly larvae, as they are forage on the tender leaves associated with the new growth of kinnikinnick inflorescences. We found a higher abundance of brown elfins was slightly correlated with areas where the average kinnikinnick inflorescence growth rate was higher. Our analysis of several environmental factors in each plot (ant presence, canopy cover, and herbivory) concluded that the variables tested had no significant relationship with the growth of kinnikinnick inflorescences. Future studies should use a longer study interval than the two-week interval used in this study; a longer interval would make it easier to capture changes in the inflorescence length of kinnikinnick. This study has the potential to inform future management strategies that could aid in the recovery of the critically imperiled seaside hoary elfin butterfly, including populations in the Tolowa Dunes State Park in Crescent City, CA.


Spring 2023


Environmental Science and Management


Ecological Restoration

Subject Categories

Environmental Science and Management

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Capstone Location