Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The genetic consequences of different dispersal behaviours in Lycaenid butterfly species

  • J.C. Habel (a1) (a2) and T. Schmitt (a1)

Many studies in population ecology have shown that related species have different dispersal behaviours. Species with sedentary and migratory behaviour exist in butterflies. While the genetic responses to population isolation are well studied, the effects of different dispersal behaviours of species are widely unknown. Therefore, we analysed 19 allozyme loci of two lycaenid butterflies, Cupido minimus as a sedentary butterfly and Aricia agestis as a mobile and expansive species. We collected 594 individuals (280 of C. minimus and 314 of A. agestis) in a western German study region with adjacent areas in Luxembourg and northeastern France. The genetic differentiation among populations of A. agestis (FST=3.9%) was lower than in C. minimus (FST=5.6%). Both species built up an isolation-by-distance system, which is more pronounced in A. agestis than in C. minimus. The genetic diversity in C. minumus populations (e.g. Ptot=73.5%) is higher for all analysed parameters than in A. agestis (e.g. Ptot=52.1%). Both species show specific genetic characteristics fitting with their different dispersal behaviours and respective ecological strategies. In the light of conservation genetics, we deduce that highly fragmented populations do not necessarily have a high extinction probability, but this risk depending much more on specific population genetic structures. In the studied species, C. minimus preserves a complex genetic constitution by high population densities. The patchily distributed A. agestis represents less rare alleles, present only in some populations, and holds up genetic diversity by high mobility.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence Fax: 00352475152 E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

M. Baguette (2003) Long distance dispersal and landscape occupancy in a metapopuation of the cranberry fritillary butterfly. Ecography 26, 153160.

M. Baguette , S. Petit & F. Quéva (2000) Population spatial structure and migration of three butterfly species within the same habitat network: consequences for conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology 37, 100108.

J. Bereczki , K. Pecsenye , L. Peregovits & Z. Varga (2005) Pattern of genetic differentiation in the Maculinea alcon species group (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) in Central Europe. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolution Research 43, 157165.

N.A. de Bourn & J.A. Thomas (1993) The ecology and conservation of the brown argus butterfly Aricia agestis in Britain. Biological Conservation 63, 6774.

S.K. Braman , J.G. Latimer , R.D. Oetting , R.D. McQueen , T.B. Eckberg & M. Prinster (2000) Management strategy, shade and landscape composition effects on urban landscape plant quality and arthropod abundance. Journal of Economic Entomology 93, 14641472.

M.I. Brookes , Y.A. Graneau , P. King , O.C. Rose , C.D. Thomas & J.L.B. Mallet (1997) Genetic analysis of founder bottlenecks in the rare british butterfly Plebejus argus. Conservation Biology 11, 648661.

J. Chen , J.F. Franklin & T.A. Spies (1995) Growing-season microclimatic gradients from clearcut edges into old-growth Douglas-fir forests. Ecological Applications 5, 7486.

S.K. Collinge (2000) Effects of grassland fragmentation on insect species loss, colonization and movement patterns. Ecology 81, 6684.

L. Conradt , T.J. Roper & C.D. Thomas (2001) Dispersal behaiour of individuals in metapopulations of two British butterflies. Oikos 95, 416424.

M.J.R. Cowley , C.D. Thomas , D.B. Roy , R.J. Wilson , J.L. Léon-Cortés , D. Guitiérrez , C.R. Bulman , R.M. Quinn , D. Moss & K.J. Gastzzon (2001) Density–distribution relationships in British butterflies, the effect of mobility and spatial scale. Journal of Animal Ecology 70, 410425.

E. Figurny-Puchalska , R.M.E. Gadeberg & J.J. Boomsma (2000) Comparison of genetic population structure of the large blue butterfly Maculinea nausithous and M. teleius. Biodiversity and Conservation 9, 419432.

R. Frankham (1995) Conservation genetics. Annual Reviews in Genetics 29, 305327.

R.M.E. Gadeberg & J.J. Boomsma (1997) Genetic population structure of the large blue butterfly Maculinea alcon in Denmark. Journal of Insect Conservation 1, 99111.

J.C. Habel , T. Schmitt & P. Müller (2005) The fourth paradigm pattern of postglacial range expansion of European terrestrial species: The phylogeography of the Marbled White butterfly (Satyrinae, Lepidoptera). Journal of Biogeography 32, 14891497.

J.C. Habel , T. Schmitt , W. Härdtle , M. Lütkepohl & T Assmann (2007) Dynamics in a butterfly-plant-ant system: influence of habitat characteristics on turnover rates of the endangered lycaenid Maculinea alcon. Ecological Entomology 32, 536543.

I. Hanski (1991) Single species metapopulation dynamics: concepts, models, and observations. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 42, 1738.

I. Hanski (1994) Patch-occupancy dynamics in fragmented landscapes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 9, 131135.

I. Hanski & M.C. Singer (2001) Extinction, colonization dynamics and host-plant choice in butterfly metapopulations. American Naturalist 158, 341353.

S. Harrison (1991) Local extinction in a metapopulation context: an empirical evaluation. Biologial Journal of the Linean Society 42, 7388.

S. Harrison & A. Hastings (1996) Genetic and evolutionary consequences of metapopulation structure. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11, 180183.

P.W. Hedrick & S.T. Kalinowski. (2000) Inbreeding Depressision in Conservation Biology. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 31, 139162.

O. Honnay , E. Coart , J. Butaye , D. Adriaens , S. Van Glabeke & I. Roldán-Ruiz (2006) Low impact of present and historical landscape configuration on the genetics of fragmented Anthyllis vulneraria populations. Biological Conservation 127, 411419.

J. Johannesen , U. Schwing , W. Seufert , A. Seitz & M. Veith (1997) Analysis of gene flow and habitat patch network for Chazara briseis (Lepidoptera: Satyridae) in an agricultural landscape. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 25, 419427.

J. Johannesen , M. Veith & A. Seitz (1996) Population genetic structure of the butterfly Melitaea didyma (Nymphalidae) along a northern distribution range border. Molecular Ecology 5, 259267.

L.F. Keller & D.M. Waller (2002) Inbreededing effects in wild populations. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17, 230241.

J. Krauss , T. Schmitt , A. Seitz , I. Steffan-Dewenter & T. Tscharntke (2004a) Effects of habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of the monophagous butterfly Polyommatus coridon along its northern range margin. Molecular Ecology 13, 311320.

J. Krauss , I. Steffan-Dewenter & T. Tscharntke (2004b) Landscape occupancy and local population size depends on host plant distribution in the butterfly Cupido minimus. Biological Conservation 120, 355361.

A. Kruess & T. Tscharntke (2000) Species richness and parasitism in a fragmented landscape: experiments and field studies with insects on Vicia sepium. Oecologia 122, 129137.

M. Kuussaari , I. Hanski & M. Singer (2000) Local speciation and landscape-level influence on host use in an herbivorous insect. Ecology 81, 21772187.

R.C. Lacy (1987) Loss of genetic diversity from managed populations: Interacting effects of drift, mutation, immigration, selection and population subdivision. Conservation Biology 1, 143158.

J.L. León-Cortés , J.J. Lennon & C.D. Tomas (2003) Ecological dynamics of extinct species in empty habitat networks, 2, The role of host plant dynamics. Oikos 102, 465477.

O.T. Lewis & S.R. Bryant (2002) Butterflies on the move. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17, 351352.

E.J. Louis & E.R. Dempster (1987) An exact test for Hardy-Weinberg and multiple alleles. Biometrics 43, 805811.

D. Louy , J.C. Habel , T. Schmitt , T. Assmann , M. Meyer & P. Müller (2007) Strongly diverging population genetic patterns of three skipper species: isolation, restricted gene flow and panmixis. Conservation Genetics 8, 671681.

D. Maes , W. Vanreuse , W. Talloen & H. Van Dyck (2004) Functional conservation units for the endangered Alcon Blue butterfly Maculinea alcon in Belgium (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Biological Conservation 120, 229241.

E. Meglecz , K. Pecsenye , L. Peregovits & Z. Varga (1997) Allozyme variation in Parnassius mnemosyne (L.) (Lepidoptera) populations in North-East Hungary: variation within a subspecies group. Genetica 101, 5966.

L. Mousson , G. Nève & M. Baguette (1999) Metapopulation structure and conservation of the the dramberry fritillary Boloria aquilonaris (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) in Belgium. Biological Conservation 87, 285293.

G. Nève , B. Barascud , R. Hughes , J. Aubert , H. Descimon , P. Lebrun & M. Baguette (1996) Dispersal, colonization power and metapopulation structure in the vulnerable butterfly Proclossiana eunomia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Journal of Applied Ecology 33, 1422.

J.G.B. Oostermeijer , M.L. Brugman , E.R. Den Boer & H.C.M. Den Nijs (1996) Temporal and spatial variation in the demography of Gentiana pneumonanthe, a rare perennial herb. Journal of Ecology 84, 166174.

L. Packer , J.S. Taylor , D.A. Savignano , C.A. Bleser , C.P. Lane & L.A. Sommers (1998) Population biology of an endangered butterfly, Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Lepidoptera; Lycaenidae): genetic variation, gene flow and taxonomic status. Canadian Journal of Zoology 76, 320329.

M.A. Peterson (1995) Phenological isolation, gene flow and developmental differences among low- and high-elevation populations of Euphilotes enoptes (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Evolution 49, 446455.

A.H. Porter & H. Geiger (1988) Genetic and phenotypic population structure of the Coenonympha tullia complex (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) in California: no evidence for species boundaries. Canandian Journal of Zoology 66, 27512765.

A.H. Porter & H. Geiger (1995) Limitations to the inference of gene flow at regional geographic scales – an example from the Pieris napi group (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) in Europe. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 54, 329348.

V.C. Radeloff , D.J. Mladenoff & M.S. Boyce (2000) The changing relation of landscape patterns and jack pine budworm populations during an outbreak. Oikos 90, 417430.

D.H. Reed & R. Frankham (2003) Correlation between fitness and genetic diversity. Conservation Biology 17, 230237.

D.A. Saunders , R.J. Hobbs & C.R. Margules (1991) Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review. Conservation Biology 5, 1832.

T. Schmitt & A. Seitz (2001a) Intraspecific allozymatic differentiation reveals the glacial refugia and the postglacial expansions of European Erebia medusa (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 74, 429458.

T. Schmitt & A. Seitz (2001b) Allozyme variation in Polyommatus coridon (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): identification of ice-age refugia and reconstruction of post-glacial expansion. Journal of Biogeography 28, 11291136.

T. Schmitt & A. Seitz (2002) Influence of habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of Polyommatus coridon (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 107, 291297.

T. Schmitt , A. Gießl & A. Seitz (2002) Postglacial colonisation of western Central Europe by Polyommatus coridon (Poda 1761) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): evidence from population genetics. Heredity 88, 2634.

T. Schmitt , A. Gießl & A. Seitz (2003) Did Polyommatus icarus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) have distinct glacial refugia in southern Europe? – Evidence from population genetics. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 80, 529538.

T. Schmitt , S. Röber & A. Seitz (2005) Is the last glaciation the only relevant event for the present genetic population structure of the Meadow Brown butterfly Maniola jurtina (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 85, 419431.

T. Schmitt , J.C. Habel , J. Besold , T. Becker , L. Johnen , M. Knolle , A. Rzepecki , J. Schultze & A. Zapp (2006) The Chalk-hill Blue Polyommatus coridon (Lycaenidae, Lepidoptera) in a highly fragmented landscape: How sedentary is a sedentary butterfly? Journal of Insect Conservation 10, 311316.

J.A. Thomas , N.A.D. Bourn , R.T. Clarke , K.E. Stewart , D.J. Simcox , G.S. Pearman , R. Curtis & B. Goodger (2001) The quality and isolation of habitat patches both determine where butterflies persist in fragmented landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 268, 17911796.

S. Vandewoestijne , T. Martin , S. Liégeois & M. Baguette (2004) Dispersal, landscape occupnacy and popualtion structure in the butterfly Melanargia galathea. Basic and Applied Ecology 5, 581591.

C.A.M. Van Swaay (2002) The importance of calcareous grasslands for butterflies in Europe. Biological Conservation 104, 315318.

B.A. Wilcox & D.D. Murphy (1985) Conservation strategy: the effects of fragmentation on extinction. American Naturalist 125, 879887.

A. Young , T. Boyle & T. Brown (1996) The population genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation for plants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11, 413419.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *