The Lulworth skipper
The Lulworth skipper butterfly has declined dramatically in number and extent over the past half-century, a drop which has been linked to more intense grazing of their preferred host plant, Tor-grass. This butterfly prefers to lay their eggs on tall clusters of grass, so populations can struggle in areas with short lawns, making them vulnerable to high levels of grazing from rabbits or farming.
People’s Trust for Endangered Species is funding Fiona Bell’s internship with Butterfly Conservation to investigate the presence and abundance of the Lulworth skipper within its range. She will do this by carrying out timed counts of the butterfly along the coast in southern Dorset. The findings from this study will be compared to previous surveys to determine whether there have been changes in butterfly presence at repeatedly surveyed sites, and to establish the location of core sites, or strongholds, of the skipper butterfly.
There is also particular interest in establishing relationships between this butterfly’s abundance and the structure of its habitat (e.g. plant cover and height), which would be used to inform better, more up-to-date management of its known ranges by landowners.