Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 637–645 | Cite as

What determines the distribution of a flightless bush-cricket (Metrioptera brachyptera) in a fragmented landscape?

Original Paper

Abstract

Based on metapopulation theory, isolation, patch size and habitat quality within patches have recently been identified as the most critical parameters determining the persistence of species. In the special case of flightless and sedentary Orthoptera species, taking into account the low dispersal ability, species survival probably depends more on habitat quality than on isolation. The aim of this study was to document how landscape (patch size, isolation and climate) and microhabitat (vegetation structure, microclimate and land use) factors influence patch occupancy and population densities, respectively, of a flightless bush-cricket (Metrioptera brachyptera) in fragmented calcareous grasslands. In summer 2005 patch occupancy of M. brachyptera was assessed in 68 calcareous grassland patches of the Diemel Valley (central Germany). Among these, 26 patches with 80 plots were selected to characterise Mbrachyptera habitats in detail. On each plot, bush-cricket density was sampled in an area of 20 m2 using a 0.5 m2 box quadrat. At the landscape level (patches) in 46 (68%) of 68 studied calcareous grassland patches M. brachyptera was present. Patch occupancy increased with annual precipitation and patch size but was independent of altitude, annual temperature and isolation. At the microhabitat level (plots), population density of Mbrachyptera decreased with land-use intensity and increased with vegetation height. In addition, a high litter accumulation was adverse for M. brachyptera. Given the low explanatory power of isolation for patch occupancy, conservation of flightless and sedentary insects, such as M. brachyptera, should primarily focus on improving habitat quality. For M. brachyptera and other stenotopic calcareous grassland species we therefore recommend traditional rough grazing with sheep, which creates a heterogenous habitat structure and avoids the accumulation of too much litter.

Keywords

Fragmentation Habitat quality Isolation Metapopulation Orthoptera Patch size 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to A. M. Schulte (Meschede) for obtaining information on the distribution of M. brachyptera in the Diemel Valley. Many thanks go to Nils Anthes (University of Tübingen) and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Moreover, we would like to thank Jan Thiele (University of Münster) for help with R. The Biologische Station Hochsauerlandkreis e.V. and the Akademie für ökologische Landeserforschung e.V. partly funded the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Ecology, Institute of Landscape EcologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

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