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Michael Menefee
Works at Colorado Natural Heritage Program
Attended Colorado State University
Lived in Fort Collins, CO
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Michael Menefee

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Celastrina humulus, The Hops Blue Butterfly of Colorado
 
This is a tetraptych of the tiny (quarter-sized) and rare hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus) I photographed last week along Monument Creek at the Air Force Academy as part of a research project for my work at the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP). They are all females, with the one on top right inserting her ovipositor into the small male wild hops flower to insert her eggs.
 
For a really cool story about the power of a novel idea being actualized into important research on this rare butterfly, please read on.
 
While conducting a recent biological inventory at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Rob Schorr and Jeremy Siemers of CNHP stumbled upon a population of hops azure butterfly. Celastrina humulus is an imperiled endemic that only occurs along the Colorado Front range which takes its name from its host plant, wild hops (Humulus lupulus). Schorr and Siemers’ discovery kicked off discussions about monitoring and assessing the prevalence of the butterfly on its plant host and led to what seemed like a feasible research plan, which (surprise!) faced funding challenges. When Schorr and Siemers sought their own solace in hops (i.e. beer), they grasped that the key to funding was already right in their hands.
 
"It's difficult to find a species or a habitat that appeals to a broader audience outside the conservation management community," zoologist Robert Schorr said. "A butterfly that is rare and likes hops doesn't present itself every day."
 
A visit to the Odell Brewing Company back in Fort Collins quickly catalyzed the concept of a beer to commemorate the tiny Colorado invertebrate. On May 18 of last year, Odell released Celastrina Saison, a limited-release Belgian farmhouse ale whose 750-ml bottle displays a male hops azure. Most importantly for the butterfly, $1 from the purchase of each bottle went into an endowment of over $10,000 CNHP has established to assist with research on Celastrina humulus.
 
The Celastrina Project's overall goal is to develop funds that can be used as small stipends for honors students’ research on rare species. These funds will help honors students in the in the fish, wildlife, and conservation biology department of the Warner College of Nature Resources here at CSU to take their education about wildlife ecology into the outdoors and apply it to understand the unique species and habitats of Colorado. The model for this began in 2014, when CNHP sponsored the first Celastrina Project honors student to study the population ecology of the hops blue butterfly and continues on this summer with two new students.
 
To learn more about CNHP or to contact us, please look here: www.cnhp.colostate.edu/
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Cheers!! to creative funding for research for this little blue butterfly.
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Michael Menefee

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Meteorotic Camping Under the Big Dipper

Here's our campsite from last weekend up near Lost Park off of Kenosha Pass.  This shot was actually a test take and as luck would have it I caught a random meteor cutting through the Big Dipper!

#Astrophotography #Meteor #Colorado  
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Excellent!
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Michael Menefee

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Meandering through Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge

The thickly braided meandering streams of Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge create a fantastic long view of the North Park area. In a few more weeks this entire area is going to be super green with all the rain we have been getting!
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Michael Menefee

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Misty Front Range Morning

Along the Front Range of Colorado I find that our sunrises are often just as beautiful to the west as the mountains pick up a bit of color and the sky echoes the east.
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+Michael Menefee thanks, lol.  so many ponds around here...  lol.   great picture. 
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Michael Menefee

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Morning Lunar Eclipse on the Prairie

Here's a view from Pawnee National Grassland of the near total eclipse of the moon as it sets in the morning twilight next to a weathered windmill on the plains.
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+Malachi The Zealous Watchman the distance to an object is not the thing that matters, so much as the distance to your eye.  Why can't you see a car on the highway from 35,000 feet in the air?   When astronomers refer to the brightness of a star, they refer to it's relative brightness, in terms of one star sitting beside the other and observed from a closer viewpoint than Earth.   A million candlepower flashlight in your friend's hand would blind you, but you won't see the light if that same flashlight was pointing right at you from the surface of the moon.   It's still a million candlepower.  Stars are much....much more distant than you imagine them to be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4iD-9GSW-0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IVqMXPFYwI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMLPJqeW78Q

If it were possible to fly a commercial jet airplane at the surface of the largest star we have discovered, it would take 11,000 years to make one trip around the star.  Space is really really big, and things are really really far away.
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Michael Menefee

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Spring Dreams of the Central Shortgrass Prairie

A view from last spring of our beloved Central Shortgrass Prairie in the area of Pawnee National Grassland here in northern Colorado.  I am not sure we will get another insane primrose bloom like last year, but we are starting to catch up on moisture so here's hoping!

#Stormchasing #weather #Colorado #Photography #Lightning #PlusPhotoExtract #WX #weather  
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Michael, I love the country out there in eastern Colorado. You have a great eye for showing it off.
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Michael Menefee

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Red-winged Blackbird Gliding

There is something absolutely magical about seeing a Red-winged Blackbird on the wing with those brilliantly colored wing patches tracing the flight lines. I took this image as part of a biological survey of Denver's critical wetlands that we have just completed at the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. You can see a short Denver County Critical Urban Wetlands Brochure here:
 
http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/download/documents/2015/Denver_Brochure_Final_Draft.pdf
 
And you can find the full report for the newly released Survey and Assessment of Critical Urban Wetlands in the City and County of Denver here:
 
http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/download/documents/2015/Denver%20County%20Report%20FINAL%206252015%20with%20Appendices.pdf

#CNHP #Colorado #Birding  
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Denver's Central Platte Valley


Last week I was at the Outdoors Summit in Denver for work which was held at DaVita's World Headquarters skyscraper next to Union Station. Happily we were allowed on the magnificent rooftop terrace and I was able to enjoy this fantastic view of the Central Platte Valley looking down the light rail line (and normal rail) towards Elitch Gardens, Pepsi Center, Mile High Stadium and beyond.

#Denver #Cityscape #Skyline #Photography  
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Hello
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Michael Menefee

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Bighorn Sheep and Black-billed Magpie Are Friends

We were delighted to see bighorn sheep in the Poudre Canyon and even more delighted when we witnessed this. It was a like an African safari in our own backyard! The bighorn sheep willingly tolerate the magpies as they help to remove external parasites from the sheep, or maybe they just dig taking them along for a ride! ;-)))

#Bighorn #Wildlife #nature #plusphotoextract #Colorado  
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+Michael Menefee great shot!  and in our very own Poudre Canyon too!  were there any kayak'ers or rafters?  it surely would be running way too fast for that.   great picture.
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Michael Menefee

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Ready for a Spring Drive

Getting all geared up for crazy cloud-filled skies and green foregrounds, so close now!   

Happy weekend ahead all, wishing everyone a great spring!
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Wahnsinn :-)
 ·  Translate
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Michael Menefee

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Autumn's Reign

Here we see a light rain washing over some changing aspen in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.  What a great fall we had!
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Lovely Michael!
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Michael Menefee

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Cedar Waxwing in Paradise

Yep, the gorgeous waxwings are back indulging on the mountain ash berries!  Every winter we can count on our neighbor's mountain ash tree to become inundated with waxwings and other boozy berry loving birds. If you have berry-laden trees in your neighborhood, be sure to check for birds imbibing on the fruit! 
 
Image notes: Double-processed raw to protect highlights on the bird's crest.

#Birding #BirdPhotography #Nature #photography #Colorado  
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Pretty!!!😍😊😃😘😄
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Education
  • Colorado State University
    B.A. Political Science
  • The Evergreen State College
    Masters of Environmental Studies
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Story
Introduction
Science geek, conservation biologist, photographer and computer nerd that loves to explore.
Work
Occupation
Conservation Biologist and Photographer
Employment
  • Colorado Natural Heritage Program
    Environmental Reivew and Data DIstribution Coordinator, 2002 - present
  • Photographer & Conservation Scientist
    present
  • The Nature Conservancy
    Field Worker - Weed mapping - GIS technician, 2001 - 2001
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Previously
Fort Collins, CO - Greeley, CO - Olympia, WA - Portland, OR - Budapest, Hungary - Denver, CO