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Do corridors promote dispersal in grassland butterflies and other insects?

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Abstract

Ecological corridors are frequently suggested to increase connectivity in fragmented landscapes even though the empirical evidence for this is still limited. Here, we studied whether corridors, in the form of linear grass strips promote the dispersal of three grassland butterflies, using mark-recapture technique in an agricultural landscape in southern Sweden. We found no effects of the presence of corridors or of corridor length on inter-patch dispersal probabilities. Instead, dispersal probabilities appeared to be related to the quality, areas and population densities of the source and recipient patches. For two of the species, the density of captured individuals along corridors was better predicted by the corridor length than by the straight-line distance from a pasture, suggesting that short-distance movements within habitat patches result in a diffusion of individuals along corridors. A literature review revealed that only 16 published studies had explicitly studied the effect of corridors on insect movement. The context in which studies were performed appeared to affect whether corridors facilitated dispersal or not. All seven studies where the corridors consisted of open areas surrounded by forest showed positive effects, while only two out of six studies where corridors consisted of grassland surrounded by other open habitats showed positive effects of corridors. Our results clearly demonstrate that corridors do not always have positive effects on insect dispersal and that the effect seems to depend on the quality of the surrounding matrix, on the spatial scale in which the study is performed and on whether true dispersal or routine movements are considered.

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Acknowledgements

L. Bomark, E. Cronvall, M. Edlund, S. Gödderz, K. Mellbrand, H. Millsjö, C. Ronnås and N. Syde assisted with the field work. S.G. Nilsson, M. Franzén, D. Levey, D. Anderson and two anonymous reviewers gave valuable comments on the manuscript. This study was financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency through the research program “The Conservation Chain” and by Lunds Djurskyddsfond. H.G.S. was supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS).

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Öckinger, E., Smith, H.G. Do corridors promote dispersal in grassland butterflies and other insects?. Landscape Ecol 23, 27–40 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-007-9167-6

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