Butterflies on the brink: Habitat requirements for declining populations of the marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) in SW England

  • Published source details Smee M., Smyth W., Tunmore M., ffrench-Constant R. & Hodgson D. (2011) Butterflies on the brink: Habitat requirements for declining populations of the marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) in SW England. Journal of Insect Conservation, 15, 153-163.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Maintain or restore traditional water meadows and bogs

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Maintain or restore traditional water meadows and bogs

    A site comparison study in 2004–2008 on five wet grasslands in Cornwall, UK (Smee et al. 2011) found that sites grazed by cattle at an intermediate intensity supported the highest abundance of marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinina caterpillars, but there was no difference in adult abundance between sites with different grazing intensities. The abundance of marsh fritillary caterpillar webs was higher at sites with intermediate grazing intensity (6.5 webs) than sites with high (1.6 webs) or low (3.7 webs) grazing intensity, but the abundance of adults did not differ between sites (data not presented). Five wet grasslands with populations of marsh fritillary were managed by cattle grazing at different intensities, and occasional burning (no further details provided). In May–June 2004–2008, adult butterflies were surveyed twice/year on 33 transects across the five sites. In August–September 2004–2008, caterpillar webs were surveyed on the same transects, and in fixed plots (number not specified). At 30 points along each transect, evidence of stock grazing was recorded to estimate grazing intensity.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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