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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Population dynamics of the butterfly Pyrgus armoricanus after translocation beyond its northern range margin

Widhalm, Theresia; Fourcade, Yoan; Frank, Thomas; Öckinger, Erik


Translocation experiments can be used to study the factors limiting species' distributions and to infer potential drivers of successful colonisation during range shifts. To study the expansion dynamics of the butterflyPyrgus armoricanusin southern Sweden and to find out whether its distribution was limited by climate, translocation experiments were carried out within and 50-60 km beyond its natural range margin. Populations were monitored for 8 years following the translocation. Although most translocation attempts failed,P. armoricanuswas able to survive in two sites north of its current range limit. One of them eventually led to expansion and establishment of a viable metapopulation. Translocation success appeared to be independent of latitude, suggesting that climate is not the main factor determining the current northern distribution limits of this butterfly. Population growth and secondary spread in the expanding population were positively related to patch area and connectivity, while local habitat quality seemed to be less important. The successful translocation and the importance of a well-connected patch network suggest that the current distribution ofP. armoricanusis limited by its low dispersal ability combined with the fragmentation of its habitat, making it unlikely to track its changing climatic niche. Assisted migration could be an effective tool for such species, but long-term evidence for its effectiveness is not yet available.


assisted migration; butterflies; climate change; dispersal ability; lepidoptera; metapopulation; range shift; temperature; translocation experiment

Published in

Insect Conservation and Diversity
2020, volume: 13, number: 6, pages: 617-629
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Widhalm, Theresia
No organisation
Widhalm, Theresia
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)
Fourcade, Yoan
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Fourcade, Yoan
Universite Paris-Est-Creteil-Val-de-Marne (UPEC)
Frank, Thomas
Univ Nat Resources and Life Sci BOKU
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

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