Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 230–246 | Cite as

Diurnal Behavior and Habitat Preferences of Erebia aethiops, an Aberrant Lowland Species of a Mountain Butterfly Clade

  • Irena SlamovaEmail author
  • Jan Klecka
  • Martin Konvicka


Erebia aethiops is an aberrant lowland representative of a predominately arctic and alpine butterfly genus. We used behavioral records obtained during a mark-recapture study (MR) to extract information about its adult diurnal and within-season activity, and to compare its activity with previously studied mountain Erebia species. Similarly to them, maintenance activities (nectaring, basking) increased with season. Contrary to mountain relatives, E. aethiops nectars in morning hours and spends the hottest parts of the day in the shade. Therefore, high rather than low temperatures seem to be limiting E. aethiops activity. We also compared microhabitat preferences of sexes, finding that females preferred grassy patches, whereas males often entered scrub and sparse canopy forest. The study illustrates the utility of auxiliary MR data to analyze butterfly activity, and points to the necessity of finely structured habitat mosaics for E. aethiops, an open woodland species that retracted to abandoned grasslands and has become vulnerable in Central Europe.


Butterfly activity habitat preferences diurnal behavior season temperature 



We would like to thank the Blansky Les Protected Landscape Area administration (esp. R. Janak, T. Rejnkova, Z. Hanc) for permits to work in the nature reserve, and for accommodation that greatly facilitated the study. J. Danko, T. Dudikova, D. Hisem, J. Kadrman, Z. Karova, V. Pouska, A. Vitova and P. Vlasanek helped in the field. Comments of two anonymous reviewers greatly helped to improve the text. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Education (6007665801, LC06073), Ministry of the Environment (SP/2d3/153/08) and the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (206/08/H044, GACR P505/10/2248, GACR P505/10/1630).


  1. Asher J, Warren M, Fox R, Harding P, Jeffcoate G, Jeffcoate S (2001) The millennium atlas of butterflies in Britain and Ireland. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 456ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Baguette M, Vansteenwegen C, Convi I, Neve G (1998) Sex-biased density-dependent migration in a metapopulation of the butterfly Proclossiana eunomia. Acta Oecol 19:17–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batary P, Orvossy N, Korosi A, Valyi-Nagy M, Peregovits L (2007) Microhabitat preferences of Maculinea teleius (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in a mosaic landscape. Eur J Entomol 104:731–736Google Scholar
  4. Benes J, Konvicka M, Dvorak J, Fric Z, Havelda Z, Pavlicko A, Vrabec V, Weidenhoffer Z (eds.) (2002) Motyli Ceske republiky: rozsireni a ochrana II. Spolecnost pro ochranu motylu, Praha, Czech Republic, 494–857 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Berwaerts K, Van Dyck H, Vints E, Matthysen E (2001) Effect of manipulated wing characteristics and basking posture on thermal properties of the butterfly Pararge aegeria (L.). J Zool Lond 255:261–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brussard PF, Ehrlich PR (1970a) The population structure of Erebia epipsodea (Lepidoptera: Satyridae). Ecology 51:119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brussard PF, Ehrlich PR (1970b) Adult behavior and population structure in Erebia epipsodea (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae). Ecology 50:880–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caro T (2007) Behavior and conservation: a bridge too far? Trends Ecol Evol 22:394–400PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cizek O, Bakesova A, Kuras T, Benes J, Konvicka M (2003) Vacant niche in alpine habitat: the case of an introduced population of the butterfly Erebia epiphron in the Krkonose Mountains. Acta Oecol 24:15–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cizek L, Fric Z, Konvicka M (2006) Host plant defences and voltinism in European butterflies. Ecol Entomol 31:337–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dennis RLH, Shreeve TG, Van Dyck H (2003) Towards a functional resource-based concept for habitat: a butterfly biology viewpoint. Oikos 102:417–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Groot M, Rebeusek F, Grobelnik V, Govedic M, Salamun A, Verovnik R (2009) Distribution modelling as an approach to the conservation of a threatened alpine endemic butterfly (Lepidoptera: Satyridae). Eur J Entomol 106:77–84Google Scholar
  13. De Vries PJ, Austin GT, Martin NH (2008) Diel activity and reproductive isolation in a diverse assemblage of Neotropical skippers (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Biol J Linn Soc 94:723–736CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ehrlich PR (1956) Ecological observations on Erebia (Lepidoptera: Satyridae) in Northwestern America. Entomol News 67:29–36Google Scholar
  15. Fartmann T (2006) Oviposition preferences, adjacency of old woodland and isolation explain the distribution of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly (Hamearis lucina) in calcareous grasslands in central Germany. Ann Zool Fen 43:335–347Google Scholar
  16. Freese A, Benes J, Bolz R, Cizek O, Dolek M, Geyer A, Gros P, Konvicka M, Liegl A, Stettmer C (2006) Habitat use of the endangered butterfly Euphydryas maturna and forestry in Central Europe. Anim Conserv 9:388–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hanc Z (2005) Denni motyli (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea, Hesperioidea), Narodni prirodni rezervace Vysenske kopce. Klapalekiana 41:33–42Google Scholar
  18. Hardy PB, Dennis RLH (2007) Seasonal and daily shifts in substrate use by settling butterflies: Conserving resources for invertebrates has a behavioral dimension. J Insect Behav 20:181–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heinrich B (1986) Comparative thermoregulation of 4 montane butterflies of different mass. Physiol Zool 59:616–626Google Scholar
  20. Hernandez-Roldan JL, Munguira ML, Martin J (2009) Ecology of a relict population of the vulnerable butterfly Pyrgus sidae on the Iberian Peninsula (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Eur J Entomol 106:611–618Google Scholar
  21. Hodgson JA, Moilanen A, Bourn NAD, Bulman CR, Thomas CD (2009) Managing successional species: Modelling the dependence of heath fritillary populations on the spatial distribution of woodland management. Biol Conserv 142:2743–2751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ide JY (2004) Diurnal and seasonal changes in the mate-locating behavior of the satyrine butterfly Lethe diana. Ecol Res 19:189–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ikejiri S, Hamaguchi T, Nakajima Y, Takeshige T, Mochimatsu I, Hara H (1980) Flying activity of the butterfly, Erebia niphonica niphonica Janson (Satyridae). New Entomol 29:55–63, in Japanese, English summaryGoogle Scholar
  24. Kemp DJ, Rutowski RL (2001) Spatial and temporal patterns of territorial mate locating behaviour in Hypolimnas bolina (L.) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). J Nat Hist 35:1399–1411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kirkland KL (1995) A review of the distribution, ecology and behaviour of the Scotch Argus. Brit Ecol Soc Bull 26:95–102Google Scholar
  26. Konvicka M, Benes J, Kuras T (2002) Microdistribution and diurnal behaviour of two sympatric mountainous butterflies (Erebia epiphron and E. euryale): relations to vegetation and weather. Biologia 57:221–233Google Scholar
  27. Korosi A, Orvossy N, Batary P, Kover S, Peregovits L (2008) Restricted within-habitat movement and time-constrained egg laying of female Maculinea rebeli butterflies. Oecologia 156:455–464PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kuras T, Benes J, Konvicka M (2000) Differing habitat affinities of four Erebia species (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae, Satyrinae) in the Hruby Jesenik Mts, Czech Republic. Biologia 55:163–169Google Scholar
  29. Kuras T, Benes J, Konvicka M (2001) Behaviour and within-habitat distribution of adult Erebia sudetica sudetica, endemic of the Hruby Jesenik Mts., Czech Republic (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae). Nota Lepid 24:87–101Google Scholar
  30. Kuras T, Benes J, Fric Z, Konvicka M (2003) Dispersal patterns of endemic alpine butterflies with contrasting population structures: Erebia epiphron and E. sudetica. Popul Ecol 45:115–123Google Scholar
  31. Leimar O, Norberg U, Wiklund C (2003) Habitat preference and habitat exploration in two species of satyrine butterflies. Ecography 26:474–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Martin JF, Gilles A, Lortscher M, Descimon H (2002) Phylogenetics and differentiation among the western taxa of the Erebia tyndarus group (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Biol J Linn Soc 75:319–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Merckx T, Van Dongen S, Matthysen E, Van Dyck H (2008) Thermal flight budget of a woodland butterfly in woodland versus agricultural landscapes: An experimental assessment. Basic Appl Ecol 9:433–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nakatani T, Usami SI, Itoh T (2007) Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Erebia aethiops group (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Trans Lepid Soc Jpn 58:387–404Google Scholar
  35. R Core Development Team (2009) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. URL:
  36. Ribaric D, Gogala M (1996) Acoustic behaviour of some butterfly species of the genus Erebia (Lepidoptera: Satyridae). Acta Entomol Slovenica 4:5–12Google Scholar
  37. Rutowski RL (1991) The evolution of male mate-locating behavior in butterflies. Am Nat 5:1121–1139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Samways MJ, Lu SS (2007) Key traits in a threatened butterfly and its common sibling: implications for conservation. Biodivers Conserv 16:4095–4107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schmitt T (1993) Biotopansprüche von Erebia medusa brigobanna Fruhstorfer, 1917 (Rundaugen-Mohrenfalter) im Nordsaarland. Atalanta 24:33–56Google Scholar
  40. Schmitt T, Haubrich K (2008) The genetic structure of the mountain forest butterfly Erebia euryale unravels the late Pleistocene and postglacial history of the mountain coniferous forest biome in Europe. Mol Ecol 17:2194–2207PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schmitt T, Muller P (2007) Limited hybridization along a large contact zone between two genetic lineages of the butterfly Erebia medusa (Satyrinae, Lepidoptera) in Central Europe. J Zool Syst Evol Res 45:39–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schmitt T, Hewitt GM, Muller P (2006) Disjunct distributions during glacial and interglacial periods in mountain butterflies: Erebia epiphron as an example. J Evol Biol 19:108–113PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schwarz R (1949) Motyli 2. Vesmir, Praha, Czech Republic 69 pp, 10 plGoogle Scholar
  44. Sekiguchi M, Nakatani T, Shinkawa T, Kogure M (2002) Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genus Erebia (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Trans Lepid Soc Jpn 53:1–11Google Scholar
  45. Slamova I, Spitzer L, Konvicka M (2010) Kde u nás preziva okac klubenkovy? Vyznam stanovistni mozaiky pro ustupujiciho motyla. [Where is Erebia aethiops still thriving? The role of habitat mosaics for the vulnerable butterfly] Ziva 2010: 32–34 (in Czech)Google Scholar
  46. Sonderegger P (2005) Die Erebien der Schweiz (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae, Genus Erebia). Private publication, W. Gassmann, Biel, Switzerland, 712 pp, 73plGoogle Scholar
  47. Stefanescu C, Penuelas J, Sardans J, Filella I (2006) Females of the specialist butterfly Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalinae: Melitaeini) select the greenest leaves of Lonicera implexa (Caprifoliaceae) for oviposition. Eur J Entomol 103:569–574Google Scholar
  48. Tennent WJ (2008) A checklist of the satyrine genus Erebia (Lepidoptera) (1758–2006). Zootaxa 1900:3–109Google Scholar
  49. Turlure C, Van Dyck H (2009) On the consequences of aggressive male mate-locating behaviour and micro-climate for female host plant use in the butterfly Lycaena hippothoe. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 63:1581–1591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Turlure C, Choutt J, Baguette M, Van Dyck H (2010) Microclimatic buffering and resource-based habitat in a glacial relict butterfly: significance for conservation under climate change. Glob Change Biol 16:1883–1893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Van Swaay CAM, Warren MS (1999) Red Data book of European butterflies. (Rhopalocera). Nature and Environment, No. 99, Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg, France, 260 ppGoogle Scholar
  52. Vlasanek P, Hauck D, Konvicka M (2010) Adult sex ratio in the Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly: effects of survival, migration and weather. Isr J Ecol Evol 55:233–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Warren BCS (1936) Monograph of the genus Erebia. British Museum (Natural History), London, Great Britain, 407 pp, 104plGoogle Scholar
  54. Wickman PO (1985) The influence of temperature on the territorial and mate locating behaviour of the small heath butterfly, Coenonympha pamphilus (L.) (Lepidoptera: Satyridae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 16:233–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wickman PO (1992) Mating systems of Coenonympha butterflies in relation to longevity. Anim Behav 44:141–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wickman PO, Rutowski RL (1999) The evolution of mating dispersion in insects. Oikos 84:463–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wiesenborn WD (1999) Sunlight avoidance compared between Hesperopsis gracielae (MacNeill) (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) and Brephidium exilis (Boisduval) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Pan Pac Entomol 75:147–152Google Scholar
  58. Wiklund C (1982) Behavioral shift from courtship solicitation to mate avoidance in female Ringlet butterflies (Aphantopus hyperanthus) after copulation. Anim Behav 30:790–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wood SN (2006) Generalized additive models—An introduction using R. Chapman & Hall/CRC, Boca Raton, USA, 410 ppGoogle Scholar
  60. Zimmermann K, Fric Z, Filipova L, Konvicka M (2005) Adult demography, dispersal and behaviour of Brenthis ino (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): how to be a successful wetland butterfly. Eur J Entomol 102:699–706Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of EntomologyBiology Centre of the Czech Academy of SciencesCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations