The landscape ecology of butterflies in traditionally managed Norwegian farmland
The modernisation of agriculture has lead to changes in Norwegian farming landscapes that have consequences for butterfly distribution and abundance. Particularly important is the abandonment of traditionally managed grasslands and the consequent increase in potential barriers of scrub and trees in the landscape. In this thesis I use a landscape ecological perspective to explore the effects of abandonment on butterfly dispersal. I demonstrate that landscape elements influence butterfly movement behaviour: tall structures were significant barriers for a range of species and even low features, such as roads, elicited significant behavioural responses which shaped the movement patterns of butterflies. Behavioural differences between species were related to ecological and physiological characteristics. Movement patterns of Scarce Coppers (Lyceana virgaureae) were recorded by mark-release- recapture (MRR) techniques. Of 1711 recorded displacements, over 90 % were under 150 m. Exchange rates between meadows were dependent upon distance and the structure of intervening vegetation. A simple spatial model, parameterised with data from the behavioural experiments, was validated using MRR observations. This confirmed that the behaviour of individuals responding to single landscape elements has consequences at the level of populations and entire landscapes. The life history and movement behaviour of the endangered Apollo (Parnassius apollo), were examined using MRR. The butterfly is well adapted to a mosaic landscape structure; however, inter-meadow movement declined exponentially with increasing distance between meadows. Abandonment of hay meadows on steep slopes, with consequent forest succession, will adversely affect the Apollo by increasing the distances between open habitat. Genetic analyses support the findings of MMR studies and add a wider spatial and temporal perspective. As a conservation management priority, I recommend population mapping to identify key sites in regional networks of populations. Finally, I consider the links between empirical studies, modelling and the practical application of theory, and discuss the implications of landscape change for the butterflies of Norwegian farmland.