Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (2): 235-242, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.032

Past and present distribution of the cryptic species Leptidea sinapis and L. reali (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) in Poland and its implications for the conservation of these butterflies

Konrad SACHANOWICZ1, Agnieszka WOWER2, Jaroslaw BUSZKO3
1 Museum and Institute of Zoology, ul. Wilcza 64, 00-679 Warszawa, Poland; e-mail:
2 Upper Silesian Nature Heritage Centre, ul. św. Huberta 35, 40-543 Katowice, Poland; e-mail:
3 Department of Animal Ecology, Nicolaus Copernicus University, ul. Gagarina 9, 87-100 Toruń, Poland; e-mail:

Using a large sample of museum and newly collected specimens of the cryptic butterfly species Leptidea sinapis and L. reali, identified/confirmed based on genital characters, the patterns in their geographical distributions, historical changes in range and briefly also their habitat associations in Poland, were investigated. Leptidea sinapis occurs mainly in the lowland and upland parts of the country and is rarer than L. reali, which is widespread throughout Poland, including the mountains. In the first half of the 20th century, the range of L. sinapis included the whole of Poland, whereas currently it is confined to eastern and southern regions. Historical records of the distribution of L. reali are concentrated in southern and central Poland. Currently it is recorded from localities throughout Poland. Leptidea reali is recorded most frequently in meadows and shows no clear preference for a particular level of humidity, while L. sinapis is found mainly in woodland and xerothermic habitats. The two species are syntopic within the present range of L. sinapis, which is now a declining and local species, whereas L. reali is now common and widespread.

Keywords: Leptidea, distribution, range changes, expansion, habitat preferences, conservation status, central Europe

Received: August 4, 2010; Accepted: November 4, 2010; Published: April 5, 2011

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