Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 245–255 | Cite as

Distribution of the Eastern knapweed fritillary (Melitaea ornata Christoph, 1893) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): past, present and future

  • János P. TóthEmail author
  • Katalin Varga
  • Zsolt Végvári
  • Zoltán Varga


Climatic change during the Quaternary resulted in periodical range restrictions and expansions in most temperate species. Although some repetitive patterns have been supported, it became obvious that species’ responses might be rather specific and may also depend on habitat preferences of the species in question. Distribution of Melitaea ornata, a little known fritillary species is analysed on different time scales using MaxEnt software. Using the results of genitalia morphometry and the predicted potential refugia during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), we reconstructed probable re-colonisation routes. We also predicted changes in the potential area for 2080. The present distribution fits well the known occurrence data except for the Iberian Peninsula and North-Africa where the species is missing. Based on our predictions, temperate areas seem to be less suitable for the species. We proposed two hypotheses to explain this pattern: a less probable recent extinction from Iberia and a more supported historical explanation. Predicted distribution during the LGM mainly fits to widely accepted refugia. Europe was probably re-colonised from two main sources, from the Apennine peninsula and from the Balkans which was probably connected to the Anatolian refugia. Populations of the Levant region and in the Elburs Mts. do not show any significant expansion. Further studies are necessary in the case of the predicted Central Asian refugia. Predictions for 2080 show a northward shift and some extinction events in the Mediterranean region. Core areas are identified which might have a potential for expansion including southern Russia, Hungary and possibly Provence in France. Predicted northward area shifts are only possible if the potential leading edge populations and habitats of the species can be preserved.


Palearctic Last Glacial Maximum MaxEnt Climate change Species distribution model 



Thanks for Gennadiy V. Kuznetsov for the useful information and the coordinates form the Volgograd region (Russia). We thank to Dr. Axel Hausmann (Zoological State Collection in Munich), Dr. Zsolt Bálint (Hungarian Natural History Museum) for borrowing valuable museum specimens for our studies. Useful suggestions and corrections of Leonardo Dapporto and an anonymous referee are highly appreciated. The survey was supported by the OTKA (K75696).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • János P. Tóth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katalin Varga
    • 2
  • Zsolt Végvári
    • 3
  • Zoltán Varga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human BiologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Department of EcologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.Department of Conservation Zoology, Hortobágy National Park DirectorateUniversity of DebrecenDebrecen Sumen u.2Hungary

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