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Title: The ecology and conservation of the Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus) and the Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus coridon) butterflies in the UK
Author: O'Connor, Rory Sean
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 699X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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A combination of habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation are causing declines in butterfly species across Europe, with habitat specialists more vulnerable than generalists. The influence of climate change is serving to complicate matters, particularly at the edge of geographic ranges. Improving the quality of habitats is a key tool for the conservation of threatened species at both a local and landscape scale and this requires a thorough understanding of the ecology and habitat requirements of species. From this perspective this thesis examines and compares the ecology of two closely butterfly species, Polyommatus bellargus (the Adonis Blue) and Polyommatus coridon (the Chalkhill Blue) in southern England; calcareous grassland specialists, found in a highly fragmented ecosystem at the northern most edge of their geographic range. Chapter 2 explores whether there has been an expansion in the larval niche of P. bellargus due to a warming climate in recent decades, and finds no indication of change once concurrent local habitat change has been accounted for. Chapter 3 examines the role that differences in microhabitat requirements play in differentiating the larval niche of P. bellargus and P. coridon, showing P. coridon has broader microhabitat requirements. Chapter 4 experimentally examines the specificity of mutualistic interactions between the larvae of each butterfly species with the ants Myrmica sabuleti and Lasius niger. Chapter 5 uses microsatellites to explore the genetic structure of both P. bellargus and P. coridon, showing (as predicted) that P. coridon has a less fragmented population structure than P. bellargus, but both species have high levels of inbreeding.
Supervisor: Thomas, Jeremy A.; Hails, Rosemary S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Zoological sciences ; Ecology (zoology) ; Polyommatus bellargus ; Polyommatus coridon ; Habitat ; Conservation ; Ecology ; Climate Change ; Myrmecophily ; Population Genetics