Modelling the effect of habitat fragmentation on range expansion in a butterfly

TitleModelling the effect of habitat fragmentation on range expansion in a butterfly
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWilson, RJ, Davies, ZG, Thomas, CD
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Date Published04/22/2009
ISBN Number0962-8452, 1471-2954
Keywordsclimate change, conservation, Habitat fragmentation, landscape ecology, Metapopulation, range expansion
AbstractThere is an increasing need for conservation programmes to make quantitative predictions of biodiversity responses to changed environments. Such predictions will be particularly important to promote species recovery in fragmented landscapes, and to understand and facilitate distribution responses to climate change. Here, we model expansion rates of a test species (a rare butterfly, Hesperia comma) in five landscapes over 18 years (generations), using a metapopulation model (the incidence function model). Expansion rates increased with the area, quality and proximity of habitat patches available for colonization, with predicted expansion rates closely matching observed rates in test landscapes. Habitat fragmentation constrained expansion, but in a predictable way, suggesting that it will prove feasible both to understand variation in expansion rates and to develop conservation programmes to increase rates of range expansion in such species.
Short TitleProc. R. Soc. B