We recorded skipper numbers within the Pinegrass cattle exclosure (800 linear feet) and an area comparable in size adjacent to the exclosure (Table 2). No cattle use was seen during the surveys. Utilization was also measured inside/outside Pinegrass 1 (Table 3). Only 1 Mardon skipper was seen near Pinegrass 2. The meadow system was also too diverse to find a suitable inside/outside comparison. Thus, Pinegrass 2 was dropped.
Ungulate use of vegetation outside the exclosures appeared to be fairly high based on photos. The main Conrad 1 cage was accidentally moved at some point in the season. Photos of Conrad 2 cage seem to show little vegetation on September 29 (figure 8). The utilization of the sites is not unusual and was also noted during visits in 2007. There is an obvious disconnect between some of the literature and professional concerns over heavy utilization and Mardon populations. Conrad meadows has been grazed for over 80 years. Observations of lack of nectaring plants and low numbers of Mardon skippers in July 2007 did not result in low counts in 2008. Mardon numbers increased over 2007. The number of Mardon Skippers in the Conrad meadow system is probably higher than the combined populations for all known sites outside of NRD. While cattle grazing may impact Mardon skippers in some habitats, especially if the timing of grazing is prior to or during emergence, there does not appear to be any reason to alter the current grazing system in Conrad Meadows.
Total # of Mardon
Total # of Mardon skippers
Total # of Mardon
observed in the cattle
outside the exclosure
One day counts at Pinegrass 1 (Cattle Exclosure)
Utilization at Pinegrass 1 (Cattle Exclosure)
Average grass height inside the exclosure
Average grass height outside the exclosure
(inches) 6.24 7.7
(inches) 6.07 6.37
*Forty percent utilization is reached when the average grass height is measured at 5.5 inches.
On the NRD cattle are turned out when soil conditions and plant growth meet a certain criteria based on soil and plant phonology range readiness monitoring. Turn out date can vary by 2 weeks from one year to the next. During the two years of Mardon skipper surveys on the District, it appears that cattle have been turned out after the Mardon peak flight period or after the completion of their flight period (Table 4).