Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (1): 99-106, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.013

Increasing patch area, proximity of human settlement and larval food plants positively affect the occurrence and local population size of the habitat specialist butterfly Polyommatus coridon (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in fragmented calcareous grasslands

Zuzanna M. ROSIN1, Piotr SKÓRKA2, Magdalena LENDA3, Dawid MORON4, Tim H. SPARKS2, Piotr TRYJANOWSKI2
1 Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznań, Poland; e-mail: zuziarosin@o2.pl
2 Institute of Zoology, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71C, 60-625 Poznań, Poland
3 Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
4 Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences, Sławkowska 17, 31-016, Kraków, Poland

Which factors influence the occurrence, population size and density of species in fragmented habitat patches are key questions in population and conservation ecology. Metapopulation theory predicts that larger and less isolated habitat patches should positively influence species occurrence and population size. However, recent studies have shown that habitat quality, human activity and permeability of the landscape surrounding habitat patches may be also important. In this paper we test the relative effects of habitat patch characteristics, human settlement and landscape permeability on the occurrence, local population size and density of the Chalk-hill Blue Polyommatus coridon a charismatic butterfly inhabiting calcareous grasslands in a fragmented landscape in southern Poland. Patch occupancy rate (corrected for the butterfly detection probability) was 0.45. Habitat patch area, proximity of human settlement and cover of larval food plants positively affected occurrence of the Chalk-hill Blue. Local population size of the Chalk-hill Blue was positively affected by patch area and proximity of human settlement, and negatively by patch isolation. Local density was higher in patches located close to human settlement. Our study is one of the few showing a positive effect of human settlement on a grassland specialist butterfly although the mechanism hidden behind this phenomenon is unknown and requires further examination. In order to maintain local populations of the Chalk-hill Blue in southern Poland, conservation action should be focused on large, closely connected calcareous grasslands. Moreover, extensive management of this habitat should be maintained by local inhabitants who are better placed to undertake such work.

Keywords: Habitat fragmentation, Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Polyommatus coridon, metapopulation, patch occupancy

Accepted: June 25, 2010; Published: January 3, 2011

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