Population Ecology

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 115–123

Dispersal patterns of endemic alpine butterflies with contrasting population structures: Erebia epiphron and E. sudetica


  • Tomas Kuras
    • Department of Ecology, Faculty of SciencesPalacky University
  • Jiri Benes
    • Department of Ecology and Conservation, Institute of EntomologyCzech Academy of Sciences
  • Zdenek Fric
    • Department of Zoology, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of South Bohemia
    • Department of Ecology and Conservation, Institute of EntomologyCzech Academy of Sciences
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10144-003-0144-x

Cite this article as:
Kuras, T., Benes, J., Fric, Z. et al. Popul Ecol (2003) 45: 115. doi:10.1007/s10144-003-0144-x


We studied population sizes and mobility of Erebia epiphron and Erebia sudetica, two high mountain butterflies forming endemic subspecies in the Hrubý Jeseník Mountains, Czech Republic. E. epiphron formed two continuous populations containing ≈100,000 and ≈4,500 individuals on alpine grasslands. The butterflies moved freely within their habitats, but movements between the two populations were highly unlikely. E. sudetica formed a system of colonies at timberline sites on valley headwalls and in forest clearings. Two such colonies studied in detail contained ≈4,500 and ≈450 adults and were interconnected by limited dispersal. The negative exponential function and the sigmoid function (this assumes flat decrease of movements over short distances) were superior to the inverse power function in fitting mobility data for both species. For E. sudetica, the functions describing movements within a habitat differed significantly from total movements, suggesting different behaviours of dispersing individuals. The habitats of E. epiphron are uniform and highly isolated, favouring free within-habitat mobility but prohibiting leaving their boundaries. The habitats of E. sudetica are diverse and disturbance-dependent; leaving such habitats is less risky, and a source-sink model may explain the persistence of the species in the mountains.


LepidopteraSatyrinaeDispersalMetapopulationSource-sinkMountain environment

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer-Verlag Tokyo 2003