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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 and Oliver, Tom H. 2021. The influence of chalk grasslands on butterfly phenology and ecology. Ecology and Evolution 11 (21) , pp. 14521-14539. 10.1002/ece3.8111

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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.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 2045-7758
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 January 2022
Date of Acceptance: 25 August 2021
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2022 12:30

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