Western Branded Skipper, oregonia subspecies (Hesperia colorado oregonia) is a small butterfly (wingspan 25-37 mm) in the skipper family Hesperiidae. It also has the English common name Oregon Branded Skipper, as cited in the status report prepared by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The naming convention used by the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre refers to the species as the "Western Branded Skipper." In this document, this species is referred to as the "oregonia subspecies."
The oregonia subspecies was assessed as Endangered by COSEWIC in 2013 but is not listed on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In British Columbia, the oregonia subspecies is ranked as S1 (critically imperiled) by the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre and is on the provincial Red list (i.e., any species or ecosystem that is at risk of being lost [extirpated, endangered, or threatened]). The provincial Conservation Framework ranks the oregonia subspecies as a priority 2 under goal three (maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems). Recovery is considered biologically and technically feasible.
The oregonia subspecies has tawny-orange wings with distinctive whitish markings and an erratic flight pattern. The adult flight period is late July through mid-September, with one generation per year. The oregonia subspecies inhabits two general habitat types: (1) sparsely vegetated, coastal sand ecosystems, including sand and gravel spits; and (2) scrub oak ecosystems, both of which are subgroups of Garry Oak and associated ecosystems.
Ten named subspecies of the Western Branded Skipper occur in North America although the taxonomy of this species is complex. Three known subspecies range within Canada. The oregonia subspecies' range in Canada is restricted to the southern portion of Vancouver Island. Within this restricted range are 18 populations: 5 extant and 13 historical. Of the 13 historical populations, 3 are in areas where suitable habitat still exists and the other 10 are from sites that have no remaining suitable habitat or that have vague locality data and, therefore, unknown habitat suitability.
The primary threat to the oregonia subspecies is the potential spray of a commercial pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki to control the introduction and spread of non-native Gypsy Moth. Secondary threats include: ecosystem modifications (i.e., the indirect cumulative threats from natural succession related to fire suppression and invasive non-native plant growth within oregonia subspecies habitats); recreational activities at some habitats that result in trampling of host and habitat plants from dog walking and hiking; and severe weather events associated with climate change (e.g., storms and flooding).
The recovery (population and distribution) goal is to maintain the abundance and distribution of all extant oregonia subspecies populations (as represented by the area of occupancy at extant sites) within British Columbia, including any additional populations that may be identified in the future.
The recovery objectives for the oregonia subspecies are:
1. to secure protection for the extant populations with no loss or degradation of occupied habitat;
2. to confirm the distribution of this subspecies within its range in British Columbia;
3. to assess the extent of threats to each of the extant populations and reduce their impacts; and
4. to address knowledge gaps such as habitat requirements, biological attributes, life history, and ecological factors, for the successful maintenance of this subspecies, including habitat restoration if necessary.
B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Heron, Jennifer. 2017. Recovery Plan for the Western Branded Skipper, oregonia subspeciesb (Hesperia colorado oregonia) in British Columbia. Province of British Columbia, B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. BC Recovery Strategy (Species at Risk)
Topic: Recovery Planning
Scientific Name: Hesperia colorado oregonia
English Name: Western Branded Skipper, oregonia subspecies
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