The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature


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The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Princeton University Press Pages: 280 Illustrations and other contents: 16 color plates + 7 b/w illus. Language: English ISBN: 9780691217178 Categories: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A remarkable look at the rarest butterflies, how global changes threaten their existence, and how we can bring them back from near-extinction.

Most of us have heard of such popular butterflies as the Monarch or Painted Lady. But what about the Fender’s Blue? Or the St. Francis’ Satyr? Because of their extreme rarity, these butterflies are not well-known, yet they are remarkable species with important lessons to teach us. The Last Butterflies spotlights the rarest of these creatures-some numbering no more than what can be held in one hand. Drawing from his own first-hand experiences, Nick Haddad explores the challenges of tracking these vanishing butterflies, why they are disappearing, and why they are worth saving. Haddad illustrates the race against time to reverse the decline of butterfly species, and he provides startling insights into the effects of human activity and environmental change on the planet’s biodiversity.

A moving account of extinction, recovery, and hope, The Last Butterflies demonstrates the great value of these beautiful insects to science, conservation, and people.

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"Longlisted for the Young Adult Science Book Award, AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books" "A valuable lens on the biodiversity crisis. Yet Haddad does not just gather data on habitat loss and other drivers of decline-although he does that with crystalline acuity. He emphasizes that measures such as restoring ecological systems can protect populations of these fragile 'ambassadors of nature', against the odds."---Barbara Kiser, Nature "There are heroes in this story, and Haddad does a wonderful job of celebrating them."---Jonathan Hahn, Sierra "Haddad eloquently argues that conserving butterflies is not about preserving an organism or habitat in aspic-that way lies stagnation and decline-it's about enabling a dynamic and resilient environment."---Richard Jones, BBC Wildlife Magazine "Wonderfully informative . . . Haddad has that rare ability to make difficult science accessible to those of us who are not trained in the nuances of ecological quantification and he does so without talking down to us."---Keith Taylor, WUOM's Stateside "A powerful study of what a declining insect population reveals about how we are treating the planet . . . . fine and compelling book."---Jules Pretty, Times Higher Education "We need to do better at embedding nature conservation, knowledge generation, and long-term monitoring as core goals in land management initiatives. The Last Butterflies shares some inspiring examples of how to achieve this."---Manu. E. Saunders, Trends in Ecology & Evolution "Haddad is extremely knowledgable about this subject, and is also able to successfully communicate that knowledge to a wider audience"---Harry Siviter, The Biologist "The Last Butterflies does a remarkable job weaving together the stories of the rarest of butterflies, changing landscapes, and the day-to-day work of the scientists who study them."---Gretchen LeBuhn, American Entomologist "The author has devoted his life to butterflies . . . His guiding principle is that humans should not be the cause of the extinction of these extremely rare species by promoting rather than destroying biodiversity - it is a moving personal ecological odyssey." * Paradigm Explorer * "[The Last Butterflies] is infused with enthusiasm for conservation efforts, both now and in the future, and with an admiration for the beauty, fragility, and resilience of butterflies. It is an important book for anyone concerned with biodiversity and conservation issues. It's also an eye-opening and engaging read for anyone with an interest in butterflies."---Rachel Pagones, New Books in Environmental Studies "This is an unusual, honest and informative book. . . . clearly written and attractively presented."---John Tennent, Atropos Magazine "As a nature enthusiast, this book will give you new perspectives on conservation and the many unseen factors in what keeps a species afloat."---Trevor Edmonson, The Daily Journal "A nice read that those interested in conservation will enjoy. . . . the author argues that even if rare butterflies may make a negligible contribution to ecological services, there are still compelling reasons to protect them." * Conservation Biology * "One of the best books about conservation biology that I've read in a long time. The Last Butterflies reads with the ease of a novel. Part adventure tale and part detective story, it leads you in search of the world's rarest butterflies and the ways we might save them."---Matthew Shepherd, Wings "This is a fantastic read told in a personal and engaging manner. . . . Would I recommend anyone to buy it? Yes, if they have any interest in natural history. This is a very accessible book, as well as being very tactile, and definitely worth the investment."---Simon R. Leather, Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation "A thoroughly entertaining AND informative read - you can't put it down."---John Badmin, British Journal of Entomology and Natural History "Haddad has evaluated some of the rarest butterflies in the world, and then investigated the reasons for their rarity and possible approaches to saving them from extinction. . . . Anyone who is contemplating a career in wildlife management or biodiversity should definitely have a copy on their bookshelf."---Jacqueline Ruffle, Amateur Entomological Society

Author Biography

Nick Haddad is a professor and senior terrestrial ecologist in the Department of Integrative Biology and the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University. He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Twitter @nickmhaddad