Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (2): 243-254, 2011 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2011.033

Demography of adults of the Marsh fritillary butterfly, Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in the Czech Republic: Patterns across sites and seasons

Kamil ZIMMERMANN1,2, Pavla BLAZKOVA1, Oldrich CIZEK1,3, Zdenek FRIC1,2, Vladimir HULA4, Pavel KEPKA1,2, David NOVOTNY1,2, Irena SLAMOVA1,2, Martin KONVICKA*,1,2
1 Faculty of Science, University South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic; e-mail: konva333@gmail.com
2 Institute of Entomology, Biological Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
3 Hutur o.p.s., J. Purkyne 1616, 500 02 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic
4 Faculty of Agriculture, Mendel Agricultural University, Zemedelska 1/1665, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic

The Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) has declined across Europe, including the Czech Republic. Current conservation strategies rely on prevention of habitat loss and degradation, and increase in habitat quality and connectivity via promoting traditional grassland management. The population structure and adult demography parameters of a single population was investigated for eight years (single system), and of all the known Czech populations (multiple populations) for a single year, using mark-recapture. There was substantial variation in the patterns of adult demography, both among years in the single system and among the multiple populations in a single year. In the single system, the date of the first flight of an adult varied by 18 days over the 8 years and total annual numbers varied with a coefficient of variation of 0.40 (females fluctuating more than males). The average density was ca 80 adults/ha. The population size displayed density-dependence, i.e. decreased following years with high adult numbers, with an equilibrium density of 90 individuals/ha. The average density of the multiple populations was ca 120 individuals/ha. The estimated total population for the Czech Republic was 25,000 individuals (17,000 males / 8,000 females) in 2007, which does not indicate an imminent threat of extinction. The regional persistence of E. aurinia is likely to depend on re-colonisation of temporarily vacant sites by dispersing individuals, facilitated by local shifts in adult flight phenology to that better adapted to local conditions.

Keywords: Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Euphydryas aurinia, Marsh fritillary, butterfly conservation, demography, density dependence, grasslands, local dynamics, metapopulation

Received: September 21, 2010; Accepted: November 4, 2010; Published: April 5, 2011

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