Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 237–246 | Cite as

Demography, dispersal and movement pattern of Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) at the Iberian Peninsula: an alarming example in an increasingly fragmented landscape?

  • Marius JunkerEmail author
  • Thomas Schmitt
Original Paper


Mediterranean countries like Portugal and Spain, so far characterised by extensive traditional land use over major parts of their territories, have been less affected by species losses. However, they are facing severe changes. As a model organism we chose the butterfly Euphydryas aurinia, highly threatened in Central Europe but still common at the Iberian Peninsula, for a mark-release-recapture survey in the western Algarve. We examined key factors for stabile metapopulation systems to assess the ability of long-term survival in the increasingly fragmented landscapes of the Iberian Peninsula. The density of the examined population was high (ca. 2,200 individuals/ha). However, the MRR-based proportion of individuals moving longer distance classes showed a better fit to the negative exponential function than to the inverse power function implying restricted dispersal behaviour. The orientation pattern of short distance movements (<10 m) proved to be independent from habitat structures. In contrast, longer movements (>10 m) were strongly orientated along the main habitat axes revealing the importance of internal habitat structures for the orientation of dispersing individuals. Based on these data, we discuss the severe consequences for the fauna of the Iberian Peninsula in an increasingly fragmented and monotonous landscape.


Butterflies Habitat Directive Habitat fragmentation Mark release recapture Mediterranean biota Movement behaviour Portugal 



We acknowledge the DFG for financing the scholarship of Marius Junker in the graduate school “Verbesserung von Normsetzung und Normanwendung im integrierten Umweltschutz durch rechts- und naturwissenschaftliche Kooperation” (No. 1319) at the Trier University, and the ICN (Lisbon/Portugal) for the permission to capture and mark the butterflies. We also thank Jan Engler (Trier University) for inspiring discussions and Martin Konvicka (Ceske Budejovice) for helpful comments concerning the data analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiogeographyTrier UniversityTrierGermany

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