Regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia) sex ratio in tallgrass prairie: Effects of survey timing and management regime

TitleRegal fritillary (Speyeria idalia) sex ratio in tallgrass prairie: Effects of survey timing and management regime
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMcCullough, K, Haukos, DA, Albanese, G
JournalThe American Midland Naturalist
Pagination57 - 76
Accession NumberKNZ002050

The regal fritillary, Speyeria idalia (Drury), was once a common inhabitant of North American grassland communities. Regal fritillary populations are commonly reported to have a male biased adult sex ratio (ASR) throughout their range. We assessed the observed ASR of regal fritillary throughout an annual flight period, investigated how the overall density of both sexes changed, and tested effects of prescribed fire, grazing and haying management treatments on male and female density. We found that regal fritillary exhibited an observed 2:1 male biased ASR across the entire emergence period. Our analysis also revealed that male density peaked earlier than female density in the flight period. Point estimates of density indicated sites that received prescribed burning at the moderate fire-return interval supported ≥1.3 times greater density of males and ≥5.6 times greater density of females versus sites burned with short and long fire-return intervals. Additionally, this effect was enhanced when combined with grazing which showed males were ≥1.9 times and females had ≥1.2 times greater point estimates of density in sites that were grazed and burned at a moderate fire-return interval versus other sites. The relatively stable status of regal fritillary within our study region suggests that a 2:1 male to female ASR may be considered the model composition of populations throughout their range. Likewise, the dynamic nature of the ASR throughout the flight period highlights the importance of conducting surveys across the flight period. Finally, these results corroborate an increasing number of research results that reveal common prairie management practices, such as prescribed fire can be applied within sites that contain regal fritillary and continue to support stable populations.