The influence of chalk grasslands on butterfly phenology and ecology

Greenwell Matthew P.
Botham Marc S.
Bruford Michael W.
Day John C.
Evans Luke C.
Gibbs Melanie
Middlebrook Ian
Roy David B.
Watts Kevin
Oliver Tom H.
Abstract The influence of large-scale variables such as climate change on phenology has received a great deal of research attention. However, local environmental factors also play a key role in determining the timing of species life cycles. Using the meadow brown butterfly Maniola jurtina as an example, we investigate how a specific habitat type, lowland calcareous grassland, can affect the timing of flight dates. Although protracted flight periods have previously been reported in populations on chalk grassland sites in the south of England, no attempt has yet been made to quantify this at a national level, or to assess links with population genetics and drought tolerance. Using data from 539 sites across the UK, these differences in phenology are quantified, and M.jurtina phenology is found to be strongly associated with both site geology and topography, independent of levels of abundance. Further investigation into aspects of M.jurtina ecology at a subset of sites finds no genetic structuring or drought tolerance associated with these same site conditions.
Year of Publication
Ecology and Evolution
Number of Pages
Research themes
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