Article

Successful Conservation of a Threatened Maculinea Butterfly

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 07/2009; 325(5936):80-3. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175726
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Globally threatened butterflies have prompted research-based approaches to insect conservation. Here, we describe the reversal of the decline of Maculinea arion (Large Blue), a charismatic specialist whose larvae parasitize Myrmica ant societies. M. arion larvae were more specialized than had previously been recognized, being adapted to a single host-ant species that inhabits a narrow niche in grassland. Inconspicuous changes in grazing and vegetation structure caused host ants to be replaced by similar but unsuitable congeners, explaining the extinction of European Maculinea populations. Once this problem was identified, UK ecosystems were perturbed appropriately, validating models predicting the recovery and subsequent dynamics of the butterfly and ants at 78 sites. The successful identification and reversal of the problem provides a paradigm for other insect conservation projects.

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    • "Inadequate understanding of the causes of these declines made the early conservation attempts of Phengaris species unsuccessful (Thomas et al., 2009). A strong population decline followed by the extinction of P. arion in England launched extensive studies of the species in Western Europe (Thomas et al., 1998, 2009). As a result, P. arion has become one of the most thoroughly studied butterflies (Thomas & Settele, 2004). "
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    • "he Netherlands ( Wynhoff et al . , 2011 ) . If the aim of nature conservation is to improve the quality and increase the carrying capacity of local habitat patches , then , according to the recommendations of the vast majority of the literature , habitat management should be optimized for the host ant populations ( e . g . , Anton et al . , 2008 ; Thomas et al . , 2009 ) . We note that a disadvantage of regular late mowing may be that nutrients are not removed from the sites allowing shrubs and tall herbs to overgrow the host plants ( Wynhoff et al . , 2011 ) . Therefore , we suggest that a small - scaled , mosaic - like pattern of diverse mowing regimes would be most beneficial for the long - term pr"
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    • "In this study, we focus on the association between environmental filtering, traits, and evolutionary history in European butterfly communities of the Calestienne landscape in southern Belgium. Butterflies are a wellstudied group in terms of both traits and their phylogenetic relationships (e.g., Bink 1992, Heikkilaët al. 2012), are of broad interest in understanding fundamental ecological processes (e.g., Dennis 2010), and are of high conservation interest due to habitat loss and fragmentation (Settele and Ku¨hn 2009, Thomas et al. 2009). Despite all of this, they have rarely been studied in the context of community assembly rules. "
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