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Successful conservation of a threatened Maculinea butterfly

Thomas, J.A.; Simcox, D.J.; Clarke, R.T.. 2009 Successful conservation of a threatened Maculinea butterfly. Science, 325 (5936). 80-83. 10.1126/science.1175726

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Abstract/Summary

Globally threatened butterflies have prompted research-based approaches to insect conservation. Here, we describe the reversal of the decline of Maculinea arion (Large Blue), a charismatic specialist whose larvae parasitize Myrmica ant societies. M. arion larvae were more specialized than had previously been recognized, being adapted to a single host-ant species that inhabits a narrow niche in grassland. Inconspicuous changes in grazing and vegetation structure caused host ants to be replaced by similar but unsuitable congeners, explaining the extinction of European Maculinea populations. Once this problem was identified, UK ecosystems were perturbed appropriately, validating models predicting the recovery and subsequent dynamics of the butterfly and ants at 78 sites. The successful identification and reversal of the problem provides a paradigm for other insect conservation projects.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1126/science.1175726
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: CEH fellows
Hails
ISSN: 0036-8075
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Zoology
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 06 Mar 2013 14:59 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/500274

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