Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 3–14 | Cite as

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly and its dukedom: larval niche variation in Hamearis lucina across Central Europe

  • Nils Anthes
  • Thomas Fartmann
  • Gabriel Hermann
Original Paper


In order to improve our understanding of habitat preferences and optimal management of open woodland insects, we analyse patch occupancy and oviposition electivity of the endangered Duke of Burgundy butterfly, Hamearis lucina, in three regions across German habitat types. Some newly available forest clearings created by a severe winter storm in the Schönbuch region were colonised within 2 years, whereas some suitable patches remained unoccupied for several years. We discuss how small population sizes, limited patch connectivity, and habitat quality may contribute to such an intermediate colonisation power. Across study regions, we document differences in oviposition site electivity. On calcareous grassland in the Diemeltal, shaded Primula plants on western slopes were preferentially used, probably to avoid desiccation of the natal food plant. To the contrary, sun-exposed Primula stands were preferred in forest clearings in the Schönbuch and calcareous fens in the Allgäu. In these regions, the risk of desiccation is low, but the overall cool and moist microclimate conditions may hamper larval development in shaded conditions, favouring oviposition at sites with maximum exposition to solar radiation. Optimal management strategies depend on the abiotic and biotic conditions and conservation priorities for the given region and habitat type, and we suggest management regimes that promise to sustain suitable H. lucina habitat at a landscape-level.


Butterfly conservation Coppicing Larval ecology Metapopulation Oviposition electivity 



Holger Loritz provided support during field work in the Allgäu. An earlier version of the manuscript benefited from comments by Matthew Oates, Tim H. Sparks and an anonymous referee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Zoological InstituteEberhard-Karls Universität TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Community Ecology, Institute of Landscape EcologyWestfälische Wilhelms-UniversitätMünsterGermany
  3. 3.Arbeitsgruppe für Tierökologie und PlanungFilderstadtGermany

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