Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 549–560 | Cite as

The last population of the Woodland Brown butterfly (Lopinga achine) in the Czech Republic: habitat use, demography and site management

  • Martin Konvicka
  • Jan Novak
  • Jiri Benes
  • Zdenek Fric
  • Jonathan Bradley
  • Petr Keil
  • Jan Hrcek
  • Karel Chobot
  • Pavel Marhoul
Original Paper


The distribution of Lopinga achine (Lepidoptera Nymphalidae, Satyrinae) in the Czech Republic has declined from thirty grid squares before 1950 to just one extant population, restricted to a single area of deciduous woodland. A review of historical sites shows that this species used to occur in various types of deciduous woodland with a relatively sparse canopy maintained by coppicing and/or grazing. The extant population inhabits mature woodland with a mean canopy cover of 60% (quartiles 50% and 65%), sparse shrubs and a species-rich herb layer containing plant species requiring dry, warm and nutrient-poor conditions. The larval host plants are the fine-leafed sedges, Carex fritschii and C. michelii. In 2006, the total population contained about 10,000 adults but this may be an over-estimate, biased by male behaviour. Measurements of adult mobility, well approximated by an inverse-power function, suggested that all existing colonies are interconnected by dispersal. Continuing existence of the population depends on two conditions; nutrient-poor conditions for a diverse ground flora and a sparse tree canopy. While canopy closure is gradually increasing, the herb layer is threatened by soil enrichment due to the demise of traditional grazing, litter raking and grass mowing in woodlands. Any future management to favour Lopinga achine should include both measures to maintain a sparse canopy and measures to export biomass, such as raking or mowing of ground flora or, preferably, re-establishment of grazing.


Butterfly conservation Canopy Forest ground flora Lepidoptera Mark-recapture Pasture woodland Population size 



We thank D. Cizkova, J. Dovala, P. Dufkova, L. Honc, J. Patera, J. Piszkiewicz, L. Spitzer for enjoyable companionship in the field. Zuzana Veverkova, our fellow zoologist who was born in a village next to the wood, recalled collecting grass in the wood with her grandmother in the late 1970s. Lepidopterists L. Honc, M. Kralicek, L. Stiova and J. Uricar, and botanists M. Chytry, V. Grulich and J. Rolecek informed us on their observations from historical Lopinga achine sites. We acknowledge funding by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (526/04/0417), Czech Department of Environment (VaV/620/1/03) and Education (LC06073).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Konvicka
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jan Novak
    • 1
  • Jiri Benes
    • 2
  • Zdenek Fric
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan Bradley
    • 3
  • Petr Keil
    • 4
  • Jan Hrcek
    • 1
  • Karel Chobot
    • 5
  • Pavel Marhoul
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of EntomologyCzech Academy of SciencesCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Verdant EcologyHome Farm, BroadmoorDorking, SurreyUK
  4. 4.Department of Ecology, Faculty of SciencesCharles UniversityPraha 2Czech Republic
  5. 5.Nature Conservation Authority of the Czech RepublicPraha 4Czech Republic

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