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Patch occupancy in the endangered butterfly Lycaena helle in a fragmented landscape: effects of habitat quality, patch size and isolation


Bauerfeind, Stephanie S; Theisen, Anett; Fischer, Klaus (2009). Patch occupancy in the endangered butterfly Lycaena helle in a fragmented landscape: effects of habitat quality, patch size and isolation. Journal of Insect Conservation, 13(3):271-277.

Abstract

While there is agreement that both habitat quality and habitat network characteristics (such as patch size and isolation) contribute to the occupancy of patches by any given species, the relative importance of these factors is under debate. This issue is of fundamental ecological importance, and moreover of special concern for conservation biologists aiming at preserving endangered species. Against this background we investigated patch occupancy in the violet copper Lycaena helle, one of the rarest butterfly species in Central Europe, in the Westerwald area (Rhineland-Palatinate, Western Germany). Occupied (n = 102) differed from vacant (n = 128) patches in altitude, size, connectivity, availability of wind shelter, in the abundance of the larval host-plant, in the abundance of a grass species indicating favorable habitat conditions and in the abundance of nitrophilous plants. Overall, patch occupancy was primarily determined by patch size, connectivity and the abundance of the larval host plant, while all other parameters of habitat quality were of subordinate importance. Therefore, our findings suggest that even for extremely sedentary species such as L. helle habitat networks are decisive and—next to the preservation of habitat quality—need to be an integral part of any conservation management for this species.

Abstract

While there is agreement that both habitat quality and habitat network characteristics (such as patch size and isolation) contribute to the occupancy of patches by any given species, the relative importance of these factors is under debate. This issue is of fundamental ecological importance, and moreover of special concern for conservation biologists aiming at preserving endangered species. Against this background we investigated patch occupancy in the violet copper Lycaena helle, one of the rarest butterfly species in Central Europe, in the Westerwald area (Rhineland-Palatinate, Western Germany). Occupied (n = 102) differed from vacant (n = 128) patches in altitude, size, connectivity, availability of wind shelter, in the abundance of the larval host-plant, in the abundance of a grass species indicating favorable habitat conditions and in the abundance of nitrophilous plants. Overall, patch occupancy was primarily determined by patch size, connectivity and the abundance of the larval host plant, while all other parameters of habitat quality were of subordinate importance. Therefore, our findings suggest that even for extremely sedentary species such as L. helle habitat networks are decisive and—next to the preservation of habitat quality—need to be an integral part of any conservation management for this species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Date:June 2009
Deposited On:22 Jun 2009 08:16
Last Modified:17 Feb 2018 22:41
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1366-638X
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-008-9166-1

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