, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 105-115

Habitat Use and Mobility of Two Threatened Coastal Dune Insects: Implications for Conservation

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We studied the habitat use and mobility of the Grayling butterfly (Hipparchia semele) and the Blue-Winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens), two threatened insects within spatially structured blond and grey dunes in a nature reserve along the Belgian coast. Although both species occur in the same biotope, H. semele were more abundant in open, dynamic sites with a relatively high amount of bare sand, while O. caerulescens preferred sheltered, more stable environments with a lower amount of bare sand. Unlike H. semele, substrate use varied in accordance to body colouration in O. caerulescens, especially on cold days, with light-coloured animals being more abundant on sand and dark-coloured animals more abundant on moss. During a mark-recapture-study, we marked 493 Grayling butterflies and 1289 Blue-Winged Grasshoppers. On average, both sexes of H. semele were equally mobile (about 150 m/day; maximum recorded distance of about 1700 m) while male O. caerulescens were significantly more mobile than females (daily average 47 vs. 5 m; maximum distances observed for O. caerulescens were about 800 m). The importance of habitat heterogeneity (within and among patches) and the consequences of habitat use and mobility of both species for the conservation of typical coastal dune habitats are discussed. The complementary use of species-specific information to site-based management measures is advocated.