Preserving Colias myrmidone in European cultural landscapes: requirements for the successful development from egg to higher larval stages at a Natura 2000 site in Romania

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The endangered and declining butterfly species Colias myrmidone is sensitive to land-use changes and vulnerable in its immature stages. The requirements for its larval habitats are still largely unknown, which hinders appropriate management in protected areas. We examined the relation between the larval development of C. myrmidone and environmental variables at a Natura 2000 site in Romania. Individuals that reached higher larval stages had a higher cover of litter as well as a lower cover of forbs around their host plants than individuals that died in early larval stages or as eggs. Surviving individuals had less other host plants in their surrounding and were found on larger host plants. Surviving individuals were found further away from the tip of their hosts than individuals that were lost due to grazing. The grazing regime is of particular importance to ensure the successful development of C. myrmidone from egg to higher larval stages. There seems to be a trade-off between positions at the tip of the shoot with palatable leaves and positions further down that protect against grazing. Especially sheep grazing may cause high direct mortality. The higher amount of litter around surviving larvae indicates a better survival when the grazing pressure is very low, but still present to keep the habitat open. However, occasional heavy grazing events may reduce the cover of forbs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)643-655
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 08.2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Ecosystems Research - Area-based conservation, Danube Clouded Yellow, Larval ecology, Low-intensity farmland, Management