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Conserving Butterflies: Elsita Kiekebusch

Ph.D. zoology researcher Elsita Keikebusch

Elsita Kiekebusch

Ph.D. student, Zoology

Global Change Fellow, Southeast Climate Science Center, Department of Applied Ecology

Combining a passion for preservation with a love of insects, Elsita Kiekebusch studies how changes in climate are affecting the life cycles and development of butterflies.

Increased temperatures could have severe impacts on creatures that depend on warmth to develop from eggs to adulthood. To study this, Kiekebusch and her research technician hike into the forested wetlands around the U.S. Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to capture female Appalachian brown butterflies. They then put them into “caterpillar corrals” to study the impact of temperature on the development of their eggs.

Kiekebusch hopes her research will aid conservation strategies for rare and endangered species.

“I feel an ethical obligation towards species conservation.”