Potential metapopulation structure and the effects of habitat quality on population size of the endangered False Ringlet butterfly

Noémi Örvössy, Ádám Kőrösi, Péter Batáry, Ágnes Vozár, László Peregovits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The False Ringlet (Coenonympha oedippus) is a European butterfly species, endangered due to the severe loss and fragmentation of its habitat. In Hungary, two remaining populations of the butterfly occur in lowland Purple Moorgrass meadows. We studied a metapopulation occupying twelve habitat patches in Central Hungary. Our aim was to reveal what measures of habitat quality affect population size and density of this metapopulation, estimate dispersal parameters and describe phenology of subpopulations. Local population sizes and dispersal parameters were estimated from an extensive mark-release-recapture dataset, while habitat quality was characterized by groundwater level, cover of grass tussocks, bush cover, height of vegetation and grass litter at each habitat patch. The estimated size of the metapopulation was more than 3,000 individuals. We estimated a low dispersal capacity, especially for females, indicating a very low probability of (re)colonization. Butterfly abundance and density in local populations increased with higher grass litter, lower groundwater level and larger area covered by tussocks. We suppose that these environmental factors affect butterfly abundance by determining the microclimatic conditions for both larvae and adult butterflies. Our results suggest that the long-term preservation of the studied metapopulation needs the maintenance of high quality habitat patches by appropriate mowing regime and water regulation. Management also should facilitate dispersal to strengthen metapopulation structure with creating stepping-stones or gradually increase habitat quality in present matrix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-547
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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Keywords

  • Coenonympha oedippus
  • Dispersal
  • Habitat management
  • Mark-recapture
  • Population size
  • Purple Moorgrass meadow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Insect Science

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