Sonia Voicescu

University of Victoria
Rithet’s Bog Conservation Area is an urban park rich in ecological diversity that has undergone considerable change within the last century. It is the last remaining peat bog within the Saanich Peninsula, and hosts an array of rare wildlife and plant species. One of those species is the Vancouver Island Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia insulana), a butterfly that is considered critically imperiled across British Columbia. Although the Rithet population has been stable over the last few years compared to others in the Victoria region, its main habitat within the park is currently threatened by Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and other invasive species. In order to preserve the sensitive wetland habitat, a collaboration with the municipality of Saanich and Rithet’s Bog Conservation Society initiated monitoring and restoration activities. Initial assessment of the butterfly population and habitat conditions involved a systematic butterfly survey every two weeks from April to August 2018, Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) of the main habitat area, and photo-point monitoring to evaluate seasonal changes in vegetation and water levels at the study site. Survey findings included observations of 249 butterflies from nine different species, out of which 83 were Vancouver Island Ringlets. Photo-point monitoring emphasized the dry conditions over the summer period, and the need to have a more permanent water source for butterfly puddling. Proposed restoration actions include the construction of a butterfly nectar garden, systematic eradication of invasive species, and continued monitoring in order to assess the effectiveness of these activities.