Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 271–277 | Cite as

Patch occupancy in the endangered butterfly Lycaena helle in a fragmented landscape: effects of habitat quality, patch size and isolation

  • Stephanie S. Bauerfeind
  • Anett Theisen
  • Klaus Fischer
Original Paper

Abstract

While there is agreement that both habitat quality and habitat network characteristics (such as patch size and isolation) contribute to the occupancy of patches by any given species, the relative importance of these factors is under debate. This issue is of fundamental ecological importance, and moreover of special concern for conservation biologists aiming at preserving endangered species. Against this background we investigated patch occupancy in the violet copper Lycaena helle, one of the rarest butterfly species in Central Europe, in the Westerwald area (Rhineland-Palatinate, Western Germany). Occupied (n = 102) differed from vacant (n = 128) patches in altitude, size, connectivity, availability of wind shelter, in the abundance of the larval host-plant, in the abundance of a grass species indicating favorable habitat conditions and in the abundance of nitrophilous plants. Overall, patch occupancy was primarily determined by patch size, connectivity and the abundance of the larval host plant, while all other parameters of habitat quality were of subordinate importance. Therefore, our findings suggest that even for extremely sedentary species such as L. helle habitat networks are decisive and—next to the preservation of habitat quality—need to be an integral part of any conservation management for this species.

Keywords

Habitat network Conservation biology Metapopulation Butterfly Bistorta officinalis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Rhineland-Palatinate/Germany for financial support (fellowship to AD). SSB and KF were funded by the German Research Council during this study (DFG grant no. Fi 846/1-2, 846/1-3, and 846/1-4 to KF).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie S. Bauerfeind
    • 1
  • Anett Theisen
    • 2
  • Klaus Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoological Institute and MuseumUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology IUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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