Research NewsEcology

Much-Studied Butterfly Winks Out on Stanford Preserve

Science  24 Jan 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5299, pp. 479-480
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5299.479

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After a long decline, the threatened bay checkerspot butterfly has disappeared from Stanford University's Jasper Ridge preserve. While this local extinction isn't yet a certainty, it has raised entomological eyebrows: Paul Ehrlich and others at Stanford chose to watch the population die off, saying more could be learned from watching it disappear than from intervening to try to save it. Their decision highlights a dilemma that many conservation biologists face—when should scientists studying a shrinking population intervene to try to save it?