Unfortunately, the checkerspot butterfly is just one of many victims of nitrogen pollution. Nitrogen is saturating ecosystems worldwide at an ever-increasing rate, largely due to use of fossil fuels. Effects include grasses invading California deserts and coastal scrublands, dwindling floral diversity in European grasslands, and ocean dead zones. Scientists say the threat to biological diversity is comparable to that from global climate change.
Restoration work at Edgewood does more than recreate a home for the threatened butterfly. Brighter spring wildflower displays offer evidence that thriving native grasslands also encourage other native species. This work also demonstrates the feasibility of preserving habitats by dynamically correcting for environmental change.