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The Last Butterflies

Nonfiction: Science
Unabridged Publication date: 06/25/2019

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The Last Butterflies

A Scientist's Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature

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Audio CD ISBN:9781684570126
Digital Download ISBN:9781684570133


A remarkable look at the rarest butterflies, how global changes threaten their existence, and how we can bring them back from near-extinction.

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Product Description

Most of us have heard of such popular butterflies as the Monarch or Painted Lady. But what about the Fender's Blue? Or the St. Francis' Satyr? Because of their extreme rarity, these butterflies are not well-known, yet they are remarkable species with important lessons to teach us. The Last Butterflies spotlights the rarest of these creatures—some numbering no more than what can be held in one hand.

Weaving a vivid and personal narrative with ideas from ecology and conservation, Haddad illustrates the race against time to reverse the decline of six butterfly species. Many scientists mistakenly assume we fully understand butterflies' natural histories. Yet, as with the Large Blue in England, we too often know too little and the conservation consequences are dire. Haddad argues that a hands-off approach is not effective and that in many instances, like for the Fender’s Blue and Bay Checkerspot, active and aggressive management is necessary. With deliberate conservation, rare butterflies can coexist with people, inhabit urban fringes, and, in the case of the St. Francis' Satyr, even reside on bomb ranges and military land. Haddad shows how, through protection and restoration efforts, we might face conservation issues for all animals and plants.


"A valuable lens on the biodiversity crisis. Yet Haddad does not just gather data on habitat loss and other drivers of decline―although he does that with crystalline acuity. He emphasizes that measures such as restoring ecological systems can protect populations of these fragile 'ambassadors of nature', against the odds." —Barbara Kiser, Nature

Author Bio

Nick Haddad is a professor and senior terrestrial ecologist in the Department of Integrative Biology and the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University. He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.