Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 591–601 | Cite as

Conserving butterflies in fragmented plantation forests: are edge and interior habitats equally important?

  • Inge van HalderEmail author
  • Luc Barbaro
  • Hervé Jactel


Edge effects are increasing in forest-dominated landscapes worldwide, due to increased fragmentation by other land uses. Understanding how species respond to edges is therefore critical to define adequate conservation measures. We compared the relative importance of interior and edge habitats for butterflies in a landscape composed of even-aged pine plantations interspersed with semi-natural habitats. Butterfly assemblages were surveyed simultaneously at the edge and the interior of 68 patches belonging to four main habitat types: herbaceous firebreaks, clearcuts and young pine stands, older pine stands, and deciduous woodlands. Butterfly species richness was higher at edges than in interior habitats, especially for pine stands. Assemblage composition differed significantly between edge and interior habitats, except for firebreaks. Of the 23 most abundant butterfly species, seven were significantly more abundant in one or all edge habitat types, five in interior habitats, and 11 species showed no edge-interior preference. Modelling the presence of individual species in edge habitats revealed the importance of habitat variables such as the abundance of nectar and host-plants, but also of the abundance of the same species in the adjacent interior habitat. Moreover, our results suggest that most species use several, different habitat types to find supplementary or complementary resources, including micro-climatic refuges to escape hot temperatures during summer. The use of adjacent edge and interior habitats by butterflies is probably a key process in such mosaic landscapes and underlines the importance of landscape heterogeneity for butterfly conservation.


Complementation Edge-effect Pinus pinaster Supplementation 



We wish to thank Audrey Lugot for her help during the field work and Stephen Pawson for his useful remarks and his corrections of the english text. This study was financed by the European Union, ERDF-Interreg Atlantic Area, FORSEE project.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR1202 Biodiversity Genes & Communities, Laboratory of Forest Entomology and BiodiversityINRACestasFrance

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