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Land-use, environment, and their impact on butterfly populations in a mountainous pastoral landscape: individual species distribution and abundance

By J.W. Dover, A. Rescia, S. Fungariño, J. Fairburn, P. Carey, P. Lunt, C. Arnot, R.L.H. Dennis and C.J. Dover

Abstract

Butterflies were studied, at the species level, in 47 mountain meadows in a 1.5 × 1.6 km study area in the Picos de Europa National Park, Spain. Butterfly transects were carried out on nine occasions in June and July 2004 and the summed data used in binary logistic and stepwise multiple regression analyses using 28 biotic and abiotic parameters. Models were created for 37 species in total: 24 using logistic regression and 24 with multiple regression; models from both approaches were obtained for 11 species. Abiotic factors dominated many analyses with factors such as proximity to water, aspect and altitude being prominent. Abiotic factors may reflect acceptable minimum conditions for presence of a species and interact with biotic factors to determine habitat quality. Classification of the meadows as either under hay or summer grazing management, or ‘winter grazing or abandoned’ was not particularly revealing probably due to inherent variability in management intensity within meadows and degree of abandonment. Features that reflected management influences, lack of management, disturbance, and sward condition featured in many analyses. Whilst many meadows are still actively managed, features that can be related to abandonment are evident for many species. The early stages of relaxation of management intensity can be positive for butterflies, but if management is not restored losses are likely as succession proceeds. The implications of this are briefly discussed.\u

Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s10841-010-9338-7
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:12829
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