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Changes in distribution of an archaic moth, Micropterix calthella, in St Petersburg, Russia, between 1989 and 2005

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Abstract Aim 

This work aimed to assess changes in the number of suitable habitats and habitat occupancy by Micropterix calthella (L.) moths (Lepidoptera, Micropterigidae) in the city of St Petersburg between 1989 and 2005. Location 

The city of St Petersburg, Russia. Methods 

The study compares results of the survey conducted on 9–12 June 2005 with data collected in 1989 and is based on the assessment of the quality and occupancy of 103 habitats that were found potentially suitable for M. calthella in 1989. If habitats contained wet microsites with undisturbed litter and dense field layer vegetation with a high abundance of flowering Ranunculus sp., they were considered potentially suitable for M. calthella; in these habitats, moths were searched for on flowers of Ranunculus– visually and/or by extensive sweep-netting. Results 

Both the number of habitats suitable for M. calthella and the number of habitats occupied by this species decreased since 1986 from 103 to 72 and from 58 to 34, respectively. The disappearance of habitats was primarily due to the building of residential blocks within the city (16 sites) and railway renovation (10 sites), while changes in habitat management, primarily in parks and recreation zones (five sites), were less important. The average distance from the city centre to the nearest population of M. calthella increased from 8.7 ± 1.5 to 12.9 ± 3.0 km (mean ± SE). Main conclusion 

The data for 2005 fit the prediction that M. calthella moths, which are unable to re-colonize potentially suitable habitats due to their low migratory ability, will disappear from the city. At the present rate of extinction, this process may take some 20–30 years to complete (or nearly complete).
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Keywords: Colonization; Micropterigidae; Micropterix calthella; Russia; distribution patterns; extinction; urban insects

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2007

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