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Thursday, April 28, 2022, 7:30 p.m.: Prioritizing California native plants for butterfly and moth conservation, with Chris Cosma: What factors do you consider when deciding which native plants to use in your projects? Water use? Aesthetics? Maintenance? In this time of global insect declines, one of our top priorities should be supporting local insect populations. Native insects need native plant resources to thrive — but when it comes to providing the right resources at the right place, not all native plants are created equal. Butterflies and moths — one of the most diverse and ecologically important groups of insects — are very picky eaters as caterpillars, often able to feed on just one or a few native plant species. That means we have to be picky in choosing which native plants to provide them. To complicate matters, which plants are the most important varies by location.

So how do we determine which plants to use? To take the guesswork out of this, Chris Coama has developed a web application called “The Butterfly Net” that helps users find the best native plant species to support butterflies and moths at any given location in California. The tool analyzes the complex networks of interactions between plants and insects to identify “keystone” plants: those that are most important to the insect community as a whole. Using these plants in yards, gardens, and restoration projects will help support butterflies, moths, and the important services they provide.

Chris Cosma is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside, where his research focuses on the effects of climate change on moth pollination. Using ecological modeling, GIS tools, and citizen science datasets, Chris is developing a web application that seeks to simultaneously increase the use of native California plants while aiding in Lepidoptera conservation. Click here to check out Chris's web tool.

Zoom instructions: This will be a Zoom meeting. To join the meeting, click the following link:
Passcode: 795450
Or by telephone:  +1 720 707 2699 (Denver — long distance charges may apply)
Meeting ID: 822 4861 0074   Passcode 795450