Spatial constraint of peatland butterfly occurrences within a heterogeneous landscape

  • Nekola J
  • Kraft C
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The occurrence of ten butterfly taxa (Clossiana eunomia dawsonii, Clossiana freija, Clossiana frigga, Clossiana titania, Coenonympha inornata, Erebia discoidalis, Incisalia augustinus, Lycaena dorcas, Lycaena epixanthe, Oeneis jutta) was analyzed within three acid peatland habitat types from the Lake Superior drainage basin of northwestern Wisconsin. Both first(nearest-neighbor spatial analysis) and second-order (Ripley's K) spatial point process statistics were used to identify the extents over which each distribution pattern significantly deviated from random expectations. Versions of these tests were used that identified significant spatial pattern uncorrelated to habitat location and habitat preference. These analyses documented non-random occurrence patterns in seven species. Deviations from random were largely confined to two extents: < 50 km and 70-100+ km. The majority of non-random patterns at < 50 km extents were examples of aggregation, while the majority of non-random patterns noted at the 70-100+ km scale were examples of segregation. These results demonstrate that even for winged animals inside a limited landscape, spatially constrained processes can be important determinants of distribution. It is likely that metapopulation dynamics and dispersal limitation help explain why aggregation is dominant at small scales. The mechanisms underlying the predominance of segregation at large scales are less clear, but may be related to migration history and/or weak environmental gradients.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Butterflies
  • Metapopulation
  • Nearest-neighbor spatial analysis Ripley's K
  • Spatial pattern

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  • Jeffrey C. Nekola

  • Clifford E. Kraft

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