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Conserv Biol. 2009 Aug;23(4):957-65.

Declines in common, widespread butterflies in a landscape under intense human use.

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Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Group, Biodiversity Research Centre, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Croix du Sud 4, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


Analyses of species' population losses typically show a dichotomy between strongly affected, rare, and localized species and apparently unaffected, common, and widespread species. We analyzed 16 years (1992-2007) of butterfly transect count data from The Netherlands in a reevaluation of the trends of common, widespread species. Fifty-five percent (11 of 20 species) of these species suffered severe declines in distribution and abundance. Overall, cumulative butterfly abundance declined by around 30%. Some of the species in decline used to be omnipresent in gardens and parks, and 2 of the species were previously considered agricultural pests. Based on their declines over the last 16 years, 2 of the 20 species (Lasiommata megera and Gonepteryx rhamni) reached endangered status in The Netherlands under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) population-decline criterion, and 2 species (Inachis io and Thymelicus lineola) met vulnerable criterion. Butterflies in farmland, urban, and particularly woodland areas showed the largest decline in species abundance. The abundance of species associated with vegetation types found mainly in nature reserves (dunes, heathland, and, to a lesser extent, seminatural grassland) increased or remained stable. The decline of widespread species requires additional conservation strategies in the wider landscape.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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