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Life-history of the Glanville fritillary butterfly in fragmented versus continuous landscapes

  • Anne Duplouy
  • Suvi Ikonen
  • Ilkka Hanski
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 5141-5156
Publication/Series: Ecology and Evolution
Volume: 3
Issue: 16
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Habitat loss and fragmentation threaten the long-term viability of innumerable
species of plants and animals. At the same time, habitat fragmentation may
impose strong natural selection and lead to evolution of life histories with possible
consequences for demographic dynamics. The Baltic populations of the Glanville
fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) inhabit regions with highly fragmented habitat
(networks of small dry meadows) as well as regions with extensive continuous
habitat (calcareous alvar grasslands). Here, we report the results of common gar-
den studies on butterflies originating from two highly fragmented landscapes (FL)
in Finland and Sweden and from two continuous landscapes (CL) in Sweden and
Estonia, conducted in a large outdoor cage (32 by 26 m) and in the laboratory.
We investigated a comprehensive set of 51 life-history traits, including measures
of larval growth and development, flight performance, and adult reproductive
behavior. Seventeen of the 51 traits showed a significant difference between frag-
mented versus CL. Most notably, the growth rate of postdiapause larvae and sev-
eral measures of flight capacity, including flight metabolic rate, were higher in
butterflies from fragmented than CL. Females from CL had shorter intervals
between consecutive egg clutches and somewhat higher life-time egg production,
but shorter longevity, than females from FL. These results are likely to reflect the
constant opportunities for oviposition in females living in continuous habitats,
while the more dispersive females from FL allocate more resources to dispersal
capacity at the cost of egg maturation rate. This study supports theoretical predic-
tions about small population sizes and high rate of population turnover in frag-
mented habitats selecting for increased rate of dispersal, but the results also
indicate that many other life-history traits apart from dispersal are affected by the
degree of habitat fragmentation.


  • Evolutionary Biology


  • ISSN: 2045-7758
Anne Duplouy