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From Africa to the Alps: risk assessment on an invasion by Cacyreus marshalli (Butler, 1898)

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  • Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso
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Cacyreus marshalli (Butler, 1898) is the only alien butterfly species in Italy, introduced from Southern Africa via the trade of ornamental Pelargonium plants (family Geraniaceae). In 2008, Quacchia and colleagues demonstrated that if Pelargonium plants are not available, females can lay eggs on Geranium spp., developing fertile offspring. C. marshalli is a thermophilous species, but in recent years some adults have been observed flying far from villages and at high altitudes (up to 2400 m a.s.l.) in the Orco valley (Gran Paradiso National Park, Aosta Valley). Due to the potential threat to native Geranium-consuming lycaenids and to evaluate the risk of naturalisation, we investigated: (i) dispersal abilities of gravid females, outside the National Park to avoid accidental establishment of the invasive species; (ii) pelargonium distribution and abundance; (iii) oviposition behaviour and preimaginal distribution; (iv) citizen care practices with pelargoniums. Pelargoniums were counted in the Orco Valley (5455 plants) and eggs and larvae were counted on 348 pelargoniums chosen on the basis of isolation and altitude. Flight experiments suggested that females were able to overcome barriers and fly at least 550 m looking for host plants. Eggs and larvae were unexpectedly abundant, but models showed that there was a temperature limit which prevented upward expansion of C. marshalli. Citizens were given a questionnaire to complete to investigate their propensity to replace pelargonium with other ornamental plants. We discuss the possibility of eradicating C. marshalli in the protected area in the light of our results.
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Journal of Insect Conservation (2019) 23:279–288
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-018-00124-8
ORIGINAL PAPER
From Africa totheAlps: risk assessment onaninvasion byCacyreus
marshalli (Butler, 1898)
ParadisoFederica1· MartelliFrancesca1· CerratoCristiana2· GhidottiSilvia2 · ViterbiRamona2· CanterinoSara3·
FerraciniChiara4· BonelliSimona1
Received: 1 September 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published online: 4 January 2019
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
Abstract
Cacyreus marshalli (Butler, 1898) is the only alien butterfly species in Italy, introduced from Southern Africa via the trade
of ornamental Pelargonium plants (family Geraniaceae). In 2008, Quacchia and colleagues demonstrated that if Pelargonium
plants are not available, females can lay eggs on Geranium spp., developing fertile offspring. C. marshalli is a thermophilous
species, but in recent years some adults have been observed flying far from villages and at high altitudes (up to 2400m a.s.l.)
in the Orco valley (Gran Paradiso National Park, Aosta Valley). Due to the potential threat to native Geranium-consuming
lycaenids and to evaluate the risk of naturalisation, we investigated: (i) dispersal abilities of gravid females, outside the
National Park to avoid accidental establishment of the invasive species; (ii) pelargonium distribution and abundance; (iii)
oviposition behaviour and preimaginal distribution; (iv) citizen care practices with pelargoniums. Pelargoniums were counted
in the Orco Valley (5455 plants) and eggs and larvae were counted on 348 pelargoniums chosen on the basis of isolation and
altitude. Flight experiments suggested that females were able to overcome barriers and fly at least 550m looking for host
plants. Eggs and larvae were unexpectedly abundant, but models showed that there was a temperature limit which prevented
upward expansion of C. marshalli. Citizens were given a questionnaire to complete to investigate their propensity to replace
pelargonium with other ornamental plants. We discuss the possibility of eradicating C. marshalli in the protected area in
the light of our results.
Keywords Geranium Bronze· Invasive species· Species naturalisation· Pelargonium
Introduction
Originally from Southern Africa, the Geranium Bronze,
Cacyreus marshalli (Butler, 1898) is the only non-native
species among the 482 species of European butterflies, and
was accidentally introduced into Europe around 1990, with
imported, ornamental Pelargonium (Geraniaceae), on which
its larvae feeds. In 1988, the first European record of C. mar-
shalli adults was made on the island of Mallorca (Balearic
Islands, Spain) (Sarto i Monteys 1992).
Since its introduction into Europe, the range of C. mar-
shalli has expanded and has been documented. The alien
species has spread to the south and south-eastern parts of
Europe: it has been recorded in Belgium (Troukens 1991),
in Italy in 1994 (Trematerra etal. 1997), in Morocco, in
Portugal, in southern France in 1998 (Tarrier 1998), in Sicily
in 2001, and in southern Switzerland in 2002. The butterfly
was also found in Malta (Sammut 2007), and in 2008 it was
recorded in Slovenia (Polak 2009) and Croatia (Marko and
Verovnik 2009). Subsequently, the species has been recorded
in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, although it cannot
survive the winter in these countries (along with Belgium);
more recently, C. marshalli has been discovered in Greece
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this
article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1084 1-018-00124 -8) contains
supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Ghidotti Silvia
silvia.ghido@gmail.com
1 DBIOS, Department ofLife Sciences andSystems Biology,
University ofTurin, Turin, Italy
2 Gran Paradiso National Park, Turin, Italy
3 Nino Costa Secondary School - Chiavazza - IC Biella II,
Biella, Italy
4 DISAFA, Department ofAgricultural, Forest andFood
Sciences, University ofTurin, Turin, Italy
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... has been reported. However, a previous research demonstrated the ability of C. marshalli to develop on some native plant species in controlled conditions [8] and to overcome natural barriers such as trees to find host plants [9]. Consequently, the risk of naturalisation of this species is high, posing an important threat for autochthonous Geranium-consuming butterflies (i.e., Eumedonia eumedon and Aricia spp. ...
... Butterflies are a sensitive taxon to climate changes, and, in mountain areas, specialised species particularly suffer reductions in their distributions and undergo shifts towards higher elevations [18,19]. Cacyreus marshalli is a thermophilic species and it could benefit from these changes since its distribution could be limited by low temperatures at high elevations [9]. Given the wide range of factors to consider in relation to the potential impact on C. marshalli, it became crucial to obtain deep knowledge of the species, utilising all the available data collected, both according to a standardised survey design and to an opportunistic way. ...
... Annual mean temperature (bio01) and temperature seasonality (bio04) were extra from the high-resolution temperature map (250 m spatial resolution) created by Me al. [23]. Since the spread of C. marshalli is potentially favoured by warm temperat [9,24], we decided to test the effect of annual mean temperature on butterfly distribu We then included temperature seasonality in order to better understand how tempera stability or variability among seasons could affect species distribution, probably influencing phenology and survival at different developmental stages. We did consider additional climatic variables because the owners of Pelargonium usually pr and look after the ornamental plants, balancing the water supply and storing the during winter. ...
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Cacyreus marshalli is the only alien butterfly in Europe. It has recently spread in the Gran Paradiso National Park (GPNP), where it could potentially compete with native geranium-consuming butterflies. Our study aimed to (1) assess the main drivers of its distribution, (2) evaluate the potential species distribution in GPNP and (3) predict different scenarios to understand the impact of climate warming and the effect of possible mitigations. Considering different sampling designs (opportunistic and standardised) and different statistical approaches (MaxEnt and N-mixture models), we built up models predicting habitat suitability and egg abundance for the alien species, testing covariates as bioclimatic variables, food plant (Pelargonium spp.) distribution and land cover. A standardised approach resulted in more informative data collection due to the survey design adopted. Opportunistic data could be potentially informative but a major investment in citizen science projects would be needed. Both approaches showed that C. marshalli is associated with its host plant distribution and therefore confined in urban areas. Its expansion is controlled by cold temperatures which, even if the host plant is abundant, constrain the number of eggs. Rising temperatures could lead to an increase in the number of eggs laid, but the halving of Pelargonium spp. populations would mostly mitigate the trend, with a slight countertrend at high elevations.
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... Detailed, autecological studies have always been and continue to be the backbone of butterfly conservation and several authors have added to this body of work (Cini et al. 2019;Marschalek et al. 2019). In an increasingly globalised world, the risks from non-native pests and pathogens is also increasing, which is the subject of a paper from America from Gezon et al. (2019) and Paradiso et al. (2019) from Europe helping to demonstrate the global nature of this threat to our wildlife. ...
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Tools for performing model selection and model averaging. Automated model selection through subsetting the maximum model, with optional constraints for model inclusion. Model parameter and prediction averaging based on model weights derived from information criteria (AICc and alike) or custom model weighting schemes. [Please do not request the full text - it is an R package. The up-to-date manual is available from CRAN].