The White Mountain Arctic butterfly [WMA; Oeneis melissa semidea (Say, 1828)] is endemic to the alpine zone of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA. Although it has been listed as “imperiled”, many biological characteristics of the WMA important for its conservation assessment and management are unknown. We conducted field studies in 2011 and 2012 to further characterize the WMA's demography, life history, and behavior. In both years, adults emerged in mid-June and occurred on Mts. Washington and Jefferson in association with Bigelow's sedge (Carex bigelowii). On both mountains, adult numbers generally were very low, suggesting that the population has declined considerably since its first description. Adults dispersed among some of the meadows on Mt. Washington, but we were unable to confirm if they moved between Mts. Washington and Jefferson. Adults generally congregated on rocky ledges and out-croppings, where males employed both perching and patrolling mate-locating strategies. In addition to elevation (high points in the landscape), adults used other cues when choosing sites at which to congregate. Finally, although many other Oeneis species engage in male territoriality, our observations suggest that WMA males are not truly territorial.
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