30 July 2021

Newfound Appreciation and Inspiration

Written by: Damayanti Valle

Image of Apodemia mormo langei by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As my Directorate Fellows Program gears toward my final week, I can’t help but feel bittersweet. I completed and finalized a Mormon metalmark butterfly dataset after I performed a literature review, gathered data from different sources (such as Butterflies and Moths of North America and Global Biodiversity Information Facility), and evaluated said data. I also georeferenced the estimated error of the occurrence records’ location notes to help find the dataset’s spatial error. My project supervisor will take this information and create the first Mormon metalmark species distribution model. The hope is that this will guide conservation efforts for Lange’s metalmark butterfly, endemic to the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, whose population trend continues to decline.

I’m saddened that I will no longer be working with the fantastic team at the San Francisco Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office because they have all been so warm and welcoming, but this is not the end of the bonds I’ve been lucky enough to have built during my fellowship. I’m naturally a shy person, but being a fellow with the Fish and Wildlife Office and an intern with the Hispanic Access Foundation has helped blossom my confidence and inspiration.

I’m happy to report that my work with Mormon metalmark is not over! Through connections formed from this fellowship, I’ve been asked to help with Lange’s metalmark behavior surveying efforts in August and September. A newfound appreciation for this tiny little butterfly has inspired me to continue working with the species.

I’m looking forward to more ways to continue to be involved because I don’t want to see this subspecies, Apodemia mormo langei, go extinct during my lifetime. With that said, I’m grateful for all the wonderful people working on this butterfly’s conservation efforts, and I’m proud to add my name to that list.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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