Oviposition by western jewel butterflies (Hypochrysops halyaetus Hewitson) was studied in the urban Koondoola regional bushland reserve, Western Australia in 1999. Observations were made in a small (70 × 120 m) localised breeding area the ‘microdistribution study area’, and in 14 paired 20 × 20 m quadrats randomly placed along established tracks in the interior of the northern half of the reserve. The principal host plant was Jacksonia sternbergiana with the secondary host being Daviesia divaricata. More Jacksonia were used for oviposition and attended by ants (40 and 71%, respectively) in the microdistribution study than plants in the ‘quadrat’ study (8 and 25%, respectively). Jacksonia stems with basal diameters below 5 mm were less likely to have eggs. PCA showed Jacksonia to be associated with disturbed conditions with a high proportion of bare ground whereas Daviesia was associated with more mature vegetation. Jacksonia density was principally correlated with the proportion of bare ground and time since the last fire. Host ant (Crematogaster perthensis) presence and proportion of bare ground were the most important factors influencing oviposition. The presence of ants was closely associated with bare ground conditions and the presence of coccids. Conservation management for floristic diversity and maturity of vegetation in reserves is likely to be a widespread phenomenon, and may negatively affect the persistence of species requiring ephemeral patches of early successional vegetation. For H. halyaetus, a species dependent on disturbed/ephemeral habitat conditions, this conflict may threaten its survival, especially in small reserves, and as a result its conservation status may be underestimated. Management options are discussed
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