Article

Successful Conservation of a Threatened Maculinea Butterfly

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 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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    • "There are relatively few scientific papers providing more detailed documentation of the fate of the various translocations and the factors affecting their success (Marttila et al., 1997; Hanski et al., 2004; Boggs et al., 2006; van Langevelde and Wynhoff, 2009; Porter and Ellis, 2011; Andersen et al., 2014). Perhaps the greatest success story among butterfly translocations has been the reintroduction of Maculinea (now Phengaris) arion in several places in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s, which had resulted in >30 local populations by 2008, some of them very large (Thomas et al., 2009; Andersen et al., 2014). "
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    • "Rotational mosaic mowing implies successive mowing of different meadow fragments (Morris and Rispin 1987; Saarinen and Jantunen 2005; Novák et al. 2007; Gaisler et al. 2011). This mowing method resembles traditional meadow management (Pöyry 2007), the abandonment of which has led to the decline of numerous meadow specialists, including the endangered Colias myrmidone (Esper, 1781) (Konvička et al. 2008a) or charismatic large blue butterflies of the genus Maculinea (=Phengaris), which are flagships of grassland conservation in Europe (Thomas et al. 2009). The future survival of the aforementioned species is dependent on the application Table 1 Positive effects of habitat management on European butterflies of conservation concern documented in the literature "
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