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
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
How protein islands form
15.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research