Wetland habitat destruction and degradation in the form of ditching, succession, or invasive plant proliferation have certainly played a major role in the decline of Baltimore checkerspots in Maryland and is probably one of the major causes for overall population declines in the state. Habitat destruction has also fragmented the landscape, creating what are now essentially remnant colonies that are often small, isolated and vulnerable to the effects of inbreeding depression. Isolated colonies may also be more vulnerable to stochastic weather events and disease outbreaks. The impacts of deer browse, predation and parasitism may be exacerbated in small, isolated colonies.
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site in Montgomery County by Denise Gibbs
The impact of global climate change may also be partially responsible for the narrowing distribution of Baltimore checkerspots in Maryland. Climate models (pictured below) indicate that changing conditions in temperature and moisture in our region may create unsuitable habitat conditions for Baltimore checkerspot populations, especially in the southern regions of the state and in low-elevation areas. The population trend of the Baltimore checkerspot supports this, as almost all of the remaining populations persist in the higher elevations of the western Maryland and in the northern Piedmont.
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