, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 455-463
Date: 08 Aug 2010

Habitat use and dispersal characteristic by Stethophyma grossum: the role of habitat isolation and stable habitat conditions towards low dispersal

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Species in a highly fragmented environment, such as the intensively used agricultural landscapes of Europe, are expected to be in danger of extinction. We hypothesize according to Kisdi’s theory (Am Nat 159:579–596, 2002) that species in fragmented landscapes with isolated habitats in general tend to possess low dispersal. In order to verify this hypothesis we studied the movement patterns of Stethophyma grossum, a hygrophilous species of wetlands, by mark–release–recapture techniques in a landscape with scattered suitable habitats over 3 years. The study focused on the major population in this landscape (site #1) as dispersal behaviour was assumed to be greatest. Actually, marked individuals of S. grossum were never found in any further suitable habitats in close vicinity to site #1. Despite that the peatland meadow of study site #1 was all over covered with homogenous vegetation only 6% (1.8 ha) of the whole area (30 ha) were occupied by S. grossum. The mean recapture rate over 3 years amounted to 39% with no significant differences between males and females. Both covered little distances within their mean range size of 1.8 ha; the median distances were 36.91 m for males and 26.65 m for females. We confirm the hypothesis that sub-populations of species in longstanding naturally isolated habitats, which habitat conditions have been stable; evolved low dispersal with little movements which are routine movements to find mating partners or food.