Marin Headlands Butterflies Heading to SF Presidio

Ringlet butterfly
Ringlet butterfly (courtesy of Jonathan Young)

“Any time we do wildlife reintroductions we make it a point to only collect from populations that are thriving and can withstand the loss,” says Jonathan Young, a wildlife ecologist at Presidio Trust in San Francisco.

Young is part of a small team that is working to reestablish new populations of ringlet butterflies by transporting pregnant females from the Marin Headlands to the Presidio. The small brownish butterflies were last seen in the area in 2007 and their extinction can be attributed to the military’s degradation of the grasslands over the years. 

“By the time the Presidio became a protected park in the late 1990s, they were on the verge of local extinction, which finally happened in the mid to late 2000s,” he says. The repopulation should be noticeable within the next couple of years, and according to Young, the project is paramount: “Ecosystem complexity results in ecosystem resiliency, which allows these habitats and the resident wildlife to adapt and survive in the face of climate change.”