Patch occupancy in Coenonympha tullia (Muller, 1764) (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae): habitat quality matters as much as patch size and isolation

Research paper by Roger L.H. Dennis, Harry T. Eales

Indexed on: 01 Sep '97Published on: 01 Sep '97Published in: Journal of Insect Conservation


Patch occupancy by Coenonympha tullia has been surveyed in 166 sites in Northumberland, UK. It was found in 117 of them and absent in 37. Weather conditions were too poor to determine its presence at a further 12 sites. Differences in habitat quality among sites account for patch occupancy as successfully (R2 = 48%) as isolation and patch size jointly (R2 = 46%). This finding has relevance for metapopulation studies as it demonstrates that greater attention should be given to differences in habitat quality among patches beyond their size and distance from one another. Together, habitat quality, patch size and isolation account for 61% of the variation in C. tullia occupancy of sites and discriminant analysis produces a correct classification for > 88% of sites. Habitat quality and patch size jointly account for much the same variance, and result in the same classification of the twelve sites excluded from analysis, as they do in conjunction with patch isolation. This result suggests that there is potential for predicting changes in occupancy of sites from site specific data in the face of changes to biotopes, such as planned exploitation and deterioration of sites from other causes including climate change and management practices.