Micro‑habitat features determine oviposition site selection in High Brown and Dark Green Fritillaries

JULIA SIMONS*, ANNE OXBROUGH, Rosa Menendez-Martinez, PAUL ASHTON

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The survival of butterfy populations depends on successful oviposition strategies. The limited mobility of early life stages requires females to select sites that refect larval requirements. However, as land use and climate changes are altering habitat conditions and micro-climate, some species may adapt ovipositing strategies and fourish while others, with narrow niche requirements, may be unable to respond. Oviposition site selection and micro-habitat niche is examined for two closely related butterfy species—the specialist High Brown Fritillary (Fabriciana adippe) and relative generalist Dark Green Fritillary (Speyeria aglaja) through feld observations of egg-laying females and analysis of micro-habitat characteristics. A total of 104 oviposition behaviour observations across both species were recorded in 69 1 m2 quadrats, with the habitat characteristics compared to randomly selected quadrats in the same area. Results show that higher host plant density was a positively signifcant factor for oviposition site selection only for the High Brown Fritillary. Moreover, the cover of live
Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and grass were important for site selection in both species, with High Brown Fritillaries tolerating less live Bracken and grass cover than Dark Green Fritillaries. This confrms the more specifc requirements and narrower micro-habitat niche of the High Brown Fritillary, which appears to be more sensitive to micro-habitat cooling. Implications for insect conservation The management of Bracken mosaic habitats for these two species should aim to supress grass growth and maintain Bracken density within limits, by opening the Bracken canopy on a rotation through grazing or manual cutting, ensuring a continuous supply of suitable micro-habitat.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Early online date11 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Lepidoptera
  • Fabriciana adippe
  • Oviposition preference
  • Micro-habit
  • Niche separation
  • Bracken

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