"It's a case of drive-by extinction," said Dr. Stuart Weiss, an ecologist with the Creekside Center for Earth Observations whose research uncovered the changes in soil chemistry.
"Ammonia is transported downwind and 15 to 20 pounds are absorbed per acre per year from the atmosphere….It's like giving it fertilizer." Weiss
, in front of a crowd of school children, public officials and volunteers, today released mature orange, black and white Bay checkerspots.He
had earlier placed about 1,000 caterpillars at Edgewood that were taken from a separate population in Santa Clara County.
Bay checkerspots are listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species List.The research and subsequent butterfly release were done with the approval of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.
"It's time for a win on the endangered species front," Weiss
The butterflies began a steep decline at Edgewood about a decade ago.A lonecheckerspot caterpillar was spotted in 2002 and none in 2003.
Research led by Weiss
and aided by other dedicated scientists, San Mateo County Parks and Recreation staff and volunteers showed that mowing and managing invasive Italian ryegrass allows native plants to return.