Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 401–411 | Cite as

Nymphalid butterfly dispersal among forest fragments at Serra da Canastra National Park, Brazil

  • Onildo J. Marini-FilhoEmail author
  • Rogério P. Martins
Original Paper


Organisms must possess good dispersal ability to persist in fragmented landscapes, as extinction in habitat patches is frequent and patches must be re-colonised to keep viable metapopulations. Thus, metapopulation maintenance is dependent on patch size and distance, although these affect species differently. In order to evaluate the ability of Nymphalid butterfly species to live in naturally fragmented small forest fragments we marked and released 3,415 butterflies in 16 of these areas separated in two networks at the Serra da Canastra National Park (PNSC), south-eastern Brazil. Subsequent recaptures in different forest fragments enabled us to assess the dispersal rates and distances for several Nymphalid species. Seventeen butterflies from 11 out of the 50 species captured were directly observed to disperse from 500 m to 870 m. Dispersal rates varied between 1 and 7% of the marked individuals and were directly correlated to the mean forewing length of each butterfly species population. The connectivity of the forest fragments through creeks appear to facilitate butterfly dispersal among fragments within micro-basins, as only one out of 50 dispersing individuals was observed to fly from one micro-basin to the other. Several species had viable populations in the small-fragment network. The distance between fragments is crucial as the coarser fragment network was unlikely to sustain viable populations of most of the species. The protection of large forest fragments located outside of the PNSC may be necessary to promote colonization of the smaller forest fragments inside the Park.


Fruit-feeding Nymphalidae Butterfly Habitat fragmentation Dispersal distance Body size 



The present work was conducted with the support of CNPq, an entity of the Brazilian government dedicated to the scientific and technologic development, which provided a doctoral scholarship to OJM-F and a research scholarship to RPM. The Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, through PROBIO, funded the first year of data collection and O Boticário Foundation funded the second year of data collection. US Fish and Wildlife Service provided funds for the course of Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management at the University of Minas Gerais (ECMVS/UFMG). This program contributes to the implementation of the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere (1940) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran 1971). We thank IBAMA and Instituto Chico Mendes (ICMBio) for the research permits and all the staff at São Roque de Minas for the logistic support at Serra da Canastra National Park. We also thank the critical reviews from two JICO anonymous reviewers, to Tim Shreeve for the English revision and Miguel Marini and Niklas Wahlberg, who greatly contributed to the enhancement of the present work. This work could not have been done if we did not have the support of many people. We thank everybody that bravely helped to carry on the fieldwork even under the harsh conditions that could be provided.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Onildo J. Marini-Filho
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rogério P. Martins
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia e Comportamento de Insetos, Depto. Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Cerrado and Caatinga Biodiversity Research and Conservation Centre, CECATInstituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da BiodiversidadeBrasíliaBrazil

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