Flight and Oviposition Behavior of the Adult Maritime Ringlet (Coenonympha nipisiquit McDunnough) Females in Response to Microhabitat
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- Sei, M. J Insect Behav (2009) 22: 87. doi:10.1007/s10905-008-9156-x
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Maritime ringlet butterflies (Coenonympha nipisiquit McDunnough), an endangered species in Canada, inhabit salt marshes, which consist of microhabitat mosaics with varied larval survival rate. These microhabitats may influence the movement and reproductive behaviors of females, which in turn may affect population dynamics. I recorded behaviors and locations of females every minute with a GPS rover and calculated their move lengths and turning angles. Move lengths did not change in response to microhabitats, although turning angles became larger near bodies of water with sparse vegetation. Females spent a longer time in one location and oviposited more often where the principal larval host, Spartina patens (Aiton) Muhl., is abundant, regardless of larval survival rate. Older females tended to initiate flight more readily than younger females and spent more time flying and nectaring. Younger females were more fecund and spent a longer time at one location. Because young females tend to be less mobile and more fecund, the majority of oviposition should take place near eclosion sites. However, some eggs will be laid away from microhabitats favorable to larval survival when older females become mobile and move out of their natal microhabitats. Because it seems to have little potential to colonize new habitat on its own, monitoring population dynamics and habitat quality will be crucial for the persistence and recovery of this rare species.