, Volume 108, Issue 4, pp 643-651

Migration of moth species in a network of small islands

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Abstract

Rapidly increasing fragmentation of natural landscapes decreases the ability of many species to reach the smaller and more isolated patches of habitat in a metapopulation. The densities of local populations of several moth species and the butterfly Hipparchia semele in a network of small islands, and the rates of inter-island movement and movement patterns, were investigated, to determine the factors affecting the rate and pattern of movements. The estimated population densities ranged from 0.001 to 0.2 individuals/m2. The observed emigration and immigration rates depended on island isolation and various traits of the species, with great variability in migration rates among species. Thin-bodied, slow-flying species did not move among the islands, whereas many robust, fast-flying species moved among the islands relatively frequently. Migration rate increased significantly with body size and was significantly higher in oligophagous than in polyphagous species, suggesting that these factors are important determinants of the migration rate of the species. Migration rate was low when the surface temperature of the sea was low, and a greater proportion of individuals emigrated from small than large patches of habitat. The migration distances of female noctuids were shorter than those of males and those of both sexes of the butterfly H. semele. The observed movement patterns are consistent with a metapopulation structure in most of the moth species.