Life-history of the Glanville fritillary butterfly in fragmented versus continuous landscapes

Anne Duplouy, Suvi Ikonen, Ilkka Hanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Habitat loss and fragmentation threaten the long-term viability of innumerable
species of plants and animals. At the same time, habitat fragmentation may
impose strong natural selection and lead to evolution of life histories with possibleconsequences for demographic dynamics. The Baltic populations of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) inhabit regions with highly fragmented habitat (networks of small dry meadows) as well as regions with extensive continuous habitat (calcareous alvar grasslands). Here, we report the results of common garden studies on butterflies originating from two highly fragmented landscapes (FL) in Finland and Sweden and from two continuous landscapes (CL) in Sweden andEstonia, conducted in a large outdoor cage (32 by 26 m) and in the laboratory.
We investigated a comprehensive set of 51 life-history traits, including measures
of larval growth and development, flight performance, and adult reproductive
behavior. Seventeen of the 51 traits showed a significant difference between fragmented versus CL. Most notably, the growth rate of postdiapause larvae and several measures of flight capacity, including flight metabolic rate, were higher in
butterflies from fragmented than CL. Females from CL had shorter intervals
between consecutive egg clutches and somewhat higher life-time egg production,but shorter longevity, than females from FL. These results are likely to reflect theconstant opportunities for oviposition in females living in continuous habitats, while the more dispersive females from FL allocate more resources to dispersal capacity at the cost of egg maturation rate. This study supports theoretical predictions about small population sizes and high rate of population turnover in fragmented habitats selecting for increased rate of dispersal, but the results also indicate that many other life-history traits apart from dispersal are affected by the degree of habitat fragmentation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)5141-5156
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology

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