Insect Conservation

UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, 06120 Halle, Germany.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 08/2009; 325(5936):41-2. DOI: 10.1126/science.1176892
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Evolutionary theory predicts that high genetic variation maintains plasticity in a species’ response to parasite pressure. However, higher genetic diversity might also cause easier infiltration by social parasites, because odour diversity is high and nest-mate recognition poor. Here we test if the obligate myrmecophile Lycaenid butterfly Phengaris nausithous, a parasite of colonies of the highly polygynous ant Myrmica rubra causes local adaptation by enhancing genetic variance in parasitized versus non parasitized ant populations M. rubra colonies from six infested and three uninfested sites were assayed at five microsatellite loci to quantify genetic variation. Our results reveal isolation by distance and a significantly enhanced intracolonial variance due to the parasite pressure.
    Journal of Insect Conservation 02/2014; 18(1). DOI:10.1007/s10841-014-9615-y · 1.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phengaris (Maculinea) butterflies are social parasites of Myrmica ant colonies. Larvae of the parasite are adopted by the ant workers into the colonies. Apparently, chemical signals are used by Phengaris nausithous Bergsträsser larvae to mimic those of the host brood to be recognized by the ants. In the present study, chemical extracts of ant brood and butterfly larvae using four different solvents are tested in behavioural choice assays in search of compounds involved in the adoption process. Tetracosane is the main shared compound in all brood extracts of Myrmica rubra L. and in all larvae of P. nausithous. The attractiveness of tetracosane for M. rubra workers is confirmed by testing synthetic tetracosane in behavioural choice assays, suggesting that the adoption ritual may be initiated by tetracosane.
    Physiological Entomology 12/2014; 40(1). DOI:10.1111/phen.12083 · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As part of a major transformation of the EU agriculture in the last few decades, traditional land-use types disappeared due to either intensification or abandonment. Grasslands are highly affected in this process and are consequently among the most threatened semi-natural habitats in Europe. However, experimental evidence is scarce on the effects of management types on biodiversity. Moreover, management types need to be feasible within the recently changed socio-economic circumstances in Hungary. We investigated the effects of timing and frequency of mowing on the abundance of the scarce large blue butterfly (Phengaris teleius), on the abundance of its host plant and on the frequency of its host ant species. In each of four study meadows, we applied four types of management: one cut per year in May, one cut per year in September, two cuts per year (May and September) and cessation of management. After three years of experimental management, we found that adult butterflies preferred plots cut once in September over plots cut twice per year and abandoned ones, while plots cut once in May were also preferred over abandoned plots. Relative host plant abundance remarkably increased in plots cut once in September. Management did not affect the occupancy pattern of Myrmica host ants. Invasive goldenrod was successfully retained by two cuts per year. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to test management effects on the whole community module of a socially parasitic butterfly, its host plant and host ants. Based on the results, we provide recommendations on regional management of the scarce large blue's habitats.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 10/2014; 196:24–33. DOI:10.1016/j.agee.2014.06.019 · 3.20 Impact Factor