Restoring Royalty to the Prairie: Habitat Improvement for the Regal Fritillary and Monarch Butterfly


Principal Investigator:

Stephen Dinsmore

Student Investigator:

One undergraduate field technician


Katy Reeder, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Stephanie Shepherd, Iowa Department of Natural Resources


January 2017 to December 2019

Funding Source(s):

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Diversity Program


Goals and Objectives:

  • Conduct Visual Encounter Surveys (VES) and line transect surveys for butterflies at each prairie site.
  • Conduct vegetation surveys to estimate canopy cover, tree stem density, and ground cover composition, and document the presence of host plants and nectar resources for target butterfly species.



Plans are underway for the first field season in 2017. We have completed site selection and have advertised for two seasonal field technicians to conduct the fieldwork in 2017.


Future Plans:

Monitoring (pre and post management) both the vegetative and butterfly response to prairie restoration will help assess the effectiveness of the proposed restoration activities in producing the expected results for the target species.  The information will allow managers the ability to adaptively manage goat prairies to meet desired outcomes.  Surveys of butterflies and vegetation structure will be conducted on a random subset of the selected restoration sites both prior to and after the restoration actions are implemented. 

Butterfly and vegetation monitoring will begin in 2017 and be conducted in accordance with Iowa’s Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring (MSIM) Program protocols for field surveys. By using the MSIM protocols, we can store the data from this project in the MSIM database and make species occurrence data from this project accessible to biologists and land management staff in the Loess Hills.

01/01/2017 to 12/31/2019