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Knowing the way home: strong philopatry of a highly mobile insect species, Brenthis ino

Abstract

Mobility is crucial for the maintenance of viable metapopulations, but quantitative data to evaluate risks due to insufficient individual mobility of focal insect species are mostly lacking. We selected the butterfly Brenthis ino, a species typically confined to wet fallow grasslands in Central Europe and performed a mark–release–recapture study in a 3.2 ha study area with one big and one small patch of suitable habitat from 22 June to 23 July 2010. The position of each butterfly capture was measured with a GPS and transferred into a GIS. In total, we marked 984 individuals in 1,545 capture events and estimated that the cumulative population size was 2,400 individuals. The initial increase of adult males proceeded much faster than for females, similar to the protandrous population build-up known from other butterflies. Moved distances for both sexes usually did not exceed 80 m, and about 40 % of all individuals used less than 2 % of the available suitable habitat. All individuals switching to the other patch returned later to their patch of origin, confirming that B. ino is highly philopatric. We conclude that low effective mobility in B. ino produces much smaller home ranges than suggested by merely observing flight activities in the field, and that low tendencies towards long-distance movements significantly hamper the maintenance of metapopulations when patch density decreases due to landscape fragmentation.

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the “Forschungsinitiative Rheinland-Pfalz” for financing the employment of Jessica Weyer and the DFG graduate school “Verbesserung von Normsetzung und Normanwendung im integrierten Umweltschutz durch rechts- und naturwissenschaftliche Kooperation” (No. 1319) Trier University for scientific support. We are grateful to Dr. Ortwin Elle for advice and support in the GIS analyses.

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Correspondence to Jessica Weyer.

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Weyer, J., Schmitt, T. Knowing the way home: strong philopatry of a highly mobile insect species, Brenthis ino . J Insect Conserv 17, 1197–1208 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-013-9601-9

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Keywords

  • Butterflies
  • Animal movement
  • Habitat use
  • Philopatry
  • Mark–release–recapture