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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Landscape Structure Shapes Habitat Finding Ability in a Butterfly

Öckinger, Erik; Dyck, Hans van


Land-use intensification and habitat fragmentation is predicted to impact on the search strategies animals use to find habitat. We compared the habitat finding ability between populations of the speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria L.) from landscapes that differ in degree of habitat fragmentation. Naive butterflies reared under standardized laboratory conditions but originating from either fragmented agricultural landscapes or more continuous forested landscapes were released in the field, at fixed distances from a target habitat patch, and their flight paths were recorded. Butterflies originating from fragmented agricultural landscapes were better able to find a woodlot habitat from a distance compared to conspecifics from continuous forested landscapes. To manipulate the access to olfactory information, a subset of individuals from both landscape types were included in an antennae removal experiment. This confirmed the longer perceptual range for butterflies from agricultural landscapes and indicated the significance of both visual and olfactory information for orientation towards habitat. Our results are consistent with selection for increased perceptual range in fragmented landscapes to reduce dispersal costs. An increased perceptual range will alter the functional connectivity and thereby the chances for population persistence for the same level of structural connectivity in a fragmented landscape.

Published in

2012, volume: 7, number: 8

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Dyck, Hans van

UKÄ Subject classification

Evolutionary Biology

Publication Identifiers


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