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How to preserve a butterfly species within an urbanising settlement and its surroundings: a study of the scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae L.) in southern Sweden

Haaland, Christine


Urbanisation is a rapidly ongoing process worldwide with profound consequences for wildlife in urban and peri-urban areas. Species are affected by habitat loss, habitat alternation and degradation, fragmentation and increased human population and activity. Habitat loss can occur due to construction of housing and infrastructure in peri-urban areas and within urban areas due to compaction. Undeveloped areas can also be changed from ruderal land, wilderness areas or leftover green space to more formal and more intensively used urban green space. This study investigated a butterfly species, the scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae L.), in an urbanising and expanding settlement in a rural location in southern Sweden. The scarce copper is still relatively common in Sweden, but has experienced severe decline in certain areas and in other parts of Europe. Patch occupancy and abundance of the species were investigated in 44 patches ranging from urban and peri-urban to rural locations. Habitats investigated were parks, urban grasslands managed for biodiversity by the local authority, unmanaged abandoned arable sites, road verges, meadows and pastures. In total, 624 sightings of scarce coppers were recorded. The highest abundances were observed in larger unmanaged patches and in meadows in peri-urban areas, while pastures had low abundances. In urban parks, no coppers were found. The smaller sites managed for biodiversity by the local authority within the settlement were often occupied by the scarce copper, although abundances were low (mean number of individuals 3 +/- 1.2). In patches which were cut, copper numbers dropped in almost all cases to zero after cutting. Patch occupancy was affected by habitat characteristics such vegetation height, tree succession, abundance of Rumex acetosella (sheep's sorrel), as well as landscape features such as length of forest edge. Factors identified as influencing abundance were the same, but additionally also flower abundance. The current high abundances of the scarce copper in the area will not be ensured in the longer term when all building plans are implemented and no other measures are taken. Recommendations are made on management and planning to preserve the species in the study area.


Grassland; Management; Planning; Patch occupancy; Sweden; Urban fringe; Urban green space; Urbanisation

Publicerad i

Journal of Insect Conservation
2017, Volym: 21, nummer: 5-6, sidor: 917-927
Utgivare: SPRINGER