Adult population ecology and egg laying strategy in the ‘cruciata’ ecotype of the endangered butterfly Maculinea alcon (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)

Abstract

Population dynamics studies in insects mostly focus on a specific life stage of a species and seldom consider different stages. Here, we studied the population demography of a protected Maculinea alconcruciata’ population and the factors that could influence the distribution of eggs. The results of the mark-recapture survey showed a relatively short flight period between mid-June and mid-July with a clearly marked early peak period. Unlike in many other butterflies, protandry was not strong. The total population of M. alconcruciata’ was estimated at 699 individuals. The survival rate, and consequently the average life span, was relatively low. Eggs showed a highly aggregated pattern, and egg numbers were positively related to general shoot size, while the number of flower buds and the features of the surrounding vegetation did not display any effect on egg laying. Based on our findings, the studied population appears viable, but specific management techniques could ensure optimal conditions for egg laying in this protected butterfly.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Annamária Fenesi and Krisztina Havadtői for the characterization of the study area’s vegetation, Ádám Kőrösi for his helpful comments on the manuscript, and Paul Kirkland for linguistic corrections which contributed to the improvement of the manuscript considerably. M.O.-F.’s work was supported by the Sectoral Operational Programme for Human Resources Development 2007–2013, co-financed by the European Social Fund, under the Project POSDRU/159/1.5/S/133391: “Doctoral and postdoctoral excellence programs for training highly qualified human resources for research in the fields of Life Sciences, Environment and Earth”. Furthermore the study was funded by the Polish National Science Centre Grant DEC-2013/11/B/NZ8/00912. During preparation of the manuscript Zs.C.’s work was supported by a Grant of the Ministry of National Education (Romania), CNCS-UEFISCDI, Project No. PN-II-ID-PCE-2012-4-0595, while B.M.’s work by the Bolyai János Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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Osváth-Ferencz, M., Czekes, Z., Molnár, G. et al. Adult population ecology and egg laying strategy in the ‘cruciata’ ecotype of the endangered butterfly Maculinea alcon (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). J Insect Conserv 20, 255–264 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-016-9858-x

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Keywords

  • Host plant
  • Mark-recapture
  • Sex ratio
  • Species conservation
  • Survival
  • Vegetation characteristics