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Dynamic populations in a dynamic landscape: the metapopulation structure of the marsh fritillary butterfly

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The marsh fritillary butterfly Euphydryas aurinia is an endangered species in most of northern Europe. We describe the metapopulation structure of E. aurinia in Finland, where the species has declined drastically in the past decades. We found two types of habitat patches suitable for the species: semi-permanent meadows and transient clearcuts in the forest. Patch area was the most significant variable predicting the occurrence of E. aurinia in a habitat patch. The species tended to be found in young rather than old clearcuts, apparently because the vegetation became too high in the latter. We used the incidence function model to simulate the metapopulation dynamics of E. aurinia in its dynamic landscape and discovered that the continued presence of the semi-permanent meadows is essential for the survival of the species in the study area in southeast Finland.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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