Redbay and Butterfly Monitoring at Cannon's Point Preserve
Authors: Nicole DeSha, McKensie Bender, and Nicole Holt
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. C. Tate Holbrook
The redbay tree (Persea bobonia) is a broadleaved evergreen tree that was once commonly found in coastal woodlands. In recent years there has been widespread mortality of redbay trees due to a fungus that is harvested by an invasive exotic insect known as the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). The beetle was first detected near Savannah, GA in 2002 and has since been detected in many additional counties along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The large scale loss of redbay trees is especially concerning because it is an ecologically important species that serves as the primary larval food source for the palamedes swallowtail butterfly (Papilio palamedes). The BIOL 4020 Conservation Biology class, in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, St. Simons Land Trust, and the University of Florida, has collected valuable data for future monitoring efforts of new and old growth redbay trees at Cannon’s Point Preserve, St. Simons Island, GA. We have also established fixed route transects for butterfly monitoring to better understand how the increasing decline of redbay trees might affect the palamedes swallowtail population.