The research, published in the latest edition of the magazine Oecologia (Ecology), has made it possible to determine the relative importance of the area which the butterfly Iolana iolas inhabits, as well as the connectivity between the different areas of the habitat (at a maximum distance of two kilometres from each other) in a network of 75 patches (population centres) situated in the south of the province of Madrid (Chinchón).
Three researchers from the King Juan Carlos University in Madrid have therefore presented a line of study on the spatial structure and dynamics of the butterfly different to other quality characteristics in the habitat.
The results of the study, prepared between 2003 and 2006, show that in the Iolana iolas and other species of monophagous butterflies (with clearly delimited habitat requirements), it is possible to predict the dynamics of their populations from the geometric variables of patches, “since most of the characteristics of the habitat are related to the patch area”, explained Sonia García Rabasa, the main author of the article, to SINC.
Researchers have concentrated on factors that determine the distribution, extinction and density of Iolana iolas populations in relation to the habitat patches formed by an endemic plant of the Iberian Peninsular, and host to butterflies, the Colutea hispanica (leguminous plant).
“The study may be of major importance for designing conservation plans for the species, and shows the relevance of geometric characteristics compared to other habitat quality properties which are frequently more difficult to achieve in field conditions”, commented the researcher.
To predict the distribution patterns it has also been important to study the synchrony between populations: “The spatial study and population dynamics of butterflies may also affect the incidence and probability of the extinction of the species”, García Rabasa pointed out.
Study of population dynamics
The fragmentation or division of the species’ habitat areas is one of the main causes of the decline of the fauna and flora, as it produces an increase in local extinctions and a reduction in recolonisation rates. Knowing the situation of the Iolana iolas, which depends on plant extension for survival, scientists have shown the effects of the characteristics of the habitat (topographic factors, microclimate, amount of resources) and the standard geometric measurements (area and connectivity) of the patches.
During the four years of the study, “the extinction, density and occupation rate of butterflies in different areas was purely determined by their size, without affecting the remoteness between the areas or the quality measurements of the habitat”, added the researcher.
Consequently, the scientists only recorded nine extinctions in nine different patches and 15 colonisations in 13 patches over four years. According to the study, all the extinctions were linked to patches or areas with a low or poor production of fruit which would “inevitably” lead to a failure in the local recruitment of butterflies.
As a result, the smallest habitat patches had lower butterfly population sizes and higher rates of extinction, irrespective of their quality of habitat. The population sizes were small, with only tens of individuals in the “best” years, and were even smaller in smaller patches, with fewer than ten individuals.
Variation in the amount of resources, in this case the production of fruit from the host plant (Colutea hispanica), from which the larvae feed, and changes in population density during these years have made it possible to detect a high level of synchrony between different habitat fragments. This high level of synchrony is a risk to populations which might experience mass extinction in all areas experiencing adverse conditions, such as the effects of climate change.
SINC Team | alfa
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences