Zoologist Hall Will Discuss Insect Conservation
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, Save Our Sandhills will host guest speaker Dr. Stephen Hall.
He will discuss insects and habitats of special conservation concern in the North Carolina Sandhills. Hall, an invertebrate zoologist with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program, conducts studies of insects associated with specialized habitats.
The importance of this topic is two-fold.
First of all, scientists are trying to determine whether certain insects are facing extinction. They are trying to give as much weight to preserving rare and threatened insects as they do to vertebrates and plants.
Secondly, they are trying to gauge the ecological integrity of the habitats of specific insects. For example, they have found a high degree of ecological integrity in some longleaf-wiregrass woodlands, and a strikingly low degree of integrity in some wetland habitats.
Integrity of habitat is important to healthy interrelationships between insects and their host plants. Each species of insect, plant or animal plays an essential role in its ecosystem.
Destruction of habitat is cause for alarm. When plants and insects disappear, the food source of birds and other animals is compromised and can even lead to the extinction of local wildlife populations.
Hall, who received a bachelor's degree in zoology from Pomona College and a doctorate in biology from the University of North Carolina, has been the invertebrate zoologist for the N.C. Natural Heritage Program since 1990.
He has extensively surveyed insect populations and their habitats in the coastal plain. In the Sandhills, he conducted a survey that resulted in the Saint Francis' satyr butterfly being listed as a Federal Endangered Species. With regard to this project, he worked at Fort Bragg with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army to determine how best to protect and manage its populations.
For several years, he also worked at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, preparing an inventory of the Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths and skippers) at the park.
The meeting will be held at the Southern Pines Civic Club at the corner of Ashe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
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