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A Resource-Based Habitat View for Conservation: Butterflies in the British Landscape

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9945-2
420 pages
February 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
A Resource-Based Habitat View for Conservation: Butterflies in the British Landscape (1405199458) cover image


Winner of the Marsh Book of the Year Award 2012 by the British Ecological Society.

In A Resource-Based Habitat View for Conservation Roger Dennis introduces a novel approach to the understanding of habitats based on resources and conditions required by organisms and their access to them,  a quantum shift from simplistic and ineffectual notions of habitats as vegetation units or biotopes. In drawing attention to what organisms actually use and need in landscapes, it focuses on resource composition, structure and connectedness, all of which describe habitat quality and underpin landscape heterogeneity. This contrasts with the current bipolar view of landscapes made up of habitat patches and empty matrix but illustrates how such a metapopulation approach of isolated patchworks can grow by adopting the new habitat viewpoint.

 The book explores principles underlying this new definition of habitat, and the impact of habitat components on populations, species’ distributions, geographical ranges and range changes, with a view to conserving resources in landscapes for whole communities. It does this using the example of butterflies - the most alluring of insects, flagship organisms and key indicators of environmental health - in the British Isles, where they have been studied most intensively. The book forms essential reading for students, researchers and practitioners in ecology and conservation, particularly those concerned with managing sites and landscapes for wildlife.


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr Martin Warren viii

Preface ix

Acknowledgements xi


Definitions of habitat 1

Distinguishing habitat from biotope and vegetation units 2


Habitat model 9

Key issues in the habitat model 14

The matrix or so-called empty space 14

Movement in and between habitats 14

Open versus closed populations and species 14

Qualifying resource outlets 15

Consumables 23

Larval hostplants and herbivory 23

Nectar sources and adult food 25

Utilities 27

Adult basking sites and behaviour 29

Mate location sites substrates and behaviour 31

Egg-laying sites and substrates 34

Adult rests and roosts 35

Larval sites for resting and moulting 37

Pupation sites 38

Parasitoids and predators in the resource zones 39

Symbionts and enemy-free space 41

Hibernation and aestivation sites 42

Conditions and conditioners 44

Climatic agents as conditioners 44

Edaphic agents as conditioners 51

Resource database 52


Describing variation in resources 53

Resource composition 53

Resource physiognomy 56

Resource connectivity 59

Resource variation in the habitat space 59

General principles of resource composition 59

General principles of resource physiognomy 60

General principles of resource connectivity 61

Resource dynamics within habitats 62

General principles of resource dynamics 63

General principles of resource composition 66

General principles of resource physiognomy 67

General principles of resource connectivity 67

Habitats butterfly resources and population status 68

Resource dynamics population status and life cycle strategies 74

Principles relating to population size and density 75

Principles relating to stage appearance 75

Resources movements and dispersion patterns inside the habitat 77


Patterns and agents in resource use 79

Some principles relating to single resource use 79

Principles relating to spatial variation in a resource type 80

Principles relating to temporal variation in single resource types 84

Principles relating to individual preferences and behaviour 86

Distribution of individuals in relation to the distribution of resources 87

Distribution of individuals on single resource patches 90

Placement of individual butterflies on single resource items 94

Manipulation of the micro-landscape: micro-architecture 95

Foraging: theory and practice 97


Biotope distinctions among British butterflies 101

Biotope associations 101

Principles of biotope properties 103

Principles linking butterflies to biotopes 106

Principles relating to observations made in biotopes 108

Biotopes environmental conditions and niche parameters 108

Principles relating to biotopes over time 112

Principles relating to vegetation succession and regeneration cycles 117

Communities niches and invasibility 120

Ecological classification of British butterflies 121

Hostplant strategies and butterfly habitats 122

Searching for ecological order in butterfly life history and resource use 127


From populations to metapopulations 129

Basic principles of metapopulations 130

The link between structure and dynamics in metapopulations 135

Empirical studies of butterfly metapopulations in Britain: habitat quality matters 136

Metapopulations and a resource view of the matrix 142

Boundary issues between patch and matrix 143

Matrix resources and movements 146

Topology for resource use and movement 152

Principles of movements and resource use in real matrix situations 157

Corridors barriers and aggregations 159

From metapopulations to an entire landscape approach 162


Landscape-scale studies 165

Landscape components and their influence on butterfly habitat distributions 167

Substrate chemistry and butterfly habitats 167

Substrate moisture and butterfly habitats 168

Substrate exposure and butterfly habitats 177

Vegetation succession and butterfly habitats 177

Light warmth and butterfly habitats 177

Hierarchy and scale recurrence in factors influencing butterfly habitats 178

Influence of landscape and landform elements on butterfly habitats and resources 179

Landform and landscape features 179

Principles of landform and landscape influences on butterfly biology 190

Butterfly landscape divides at the British Isles scale 192

Landscape refuges for butterfly habitats 192

Case examples of the impact of landscape features on butterfly resources 193

Hill tops and hill-topping: a special case? 193

The significance of slopes and their aspects for butterfly habitats and resources 196

Rural ‘architecture’ and ‘furniture’ and their impact on butterfly resources 200

Translating concepts from the habitat to a landscape scale 204

Landscape-scale studies on butterflies 205

Cautionary principles for landscape-scale studies 205

Empirical findings of remote landscape-scale butterfly studies 209

Landscape modelling approaches 210


Components of geographical ranges 211

Definitions of range and distribution 211

Measuring geographical ranges 214

Ecological factors underlying ranges and distributions 215

Species’ richness: trends and climate 216

Local population abundance–range size rule 217

Contrasts for species’ geographical ranges: ecological and life history influences 218

Altitudinal limits: upper and lower limits of tolerance 224

The importance of range for sourcing islands with butterfly species 228

Butterfly species in cities and conurbations: changes in diversity and incidence 228

Range changes before records 232

Origins 232

Establishment 236

Present and future distributions: climate and land use changes 238

Recent and future range and distribution changes in Britain: basic habitat issues 243

Range and distribution changes: response to specific agents of change 245

Principles associated with climate change 246

Principles associated with habitat destruction pollution and accident 248


Approaches to conservation and conserving butterflies 256

Species or ‘habitat’ approaches 257

‘Habitat’ ( npatch) versus landscape approach 258

Single species versus multispecies approach 261

The single site in butterfly conservation 262

Basic principles for within habitat conservation 262

Management and development of existing sites 264

Mapping and predicting butterfly habitats 265

Multiple sites in single and multispecies approaches 268

Basic principles for conserving butterfly habitats at the landscape scale 271

Broad principles for conserving landscapes for multispecies 273

Management and development of existing landscapes 273

Guiding principles for landscape restoration 277

Size shape and placement issues for single habitat patches 278

Internal habitat issues for single patches 284

Principles for patchwork creation 285

Principles for creating networks hierarchies and surfaces 286

Introductions 288

Butterflies as indicators and flagship species 292


1 Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) status legal protection and taxonomic relationships for British butterflies 295

1a: Resident and recently extinct species 295

1b: Rare migrants introductions and/or long-extinct species 297

1c: Taxonomic affinities of British butterflies 298

2 Larval hostplants for British butterflies 299

2a: Status of hostplants 299

2b: Hostplant families range of butterfly herbivory and hostplant phenology 312

2c: Larval hostplant biotopes phenology growth forms environments and life history strategies 314

3 Nectar sources of British butterflies 320

3a: Key flowering nectar plants used by butterfly species 320

3b: Nectar plants supporting 10 or more butterfly species 332

3c: Nectar plant families supporting six or more butterfly species 333

3d: Nectar plants used by butterflies more often or less often than expected 334

3e: Adult feeding: nectar and non-nectar sources 335

4 Statistics on larval host use and adult feeding in British butterflies 337

5 Utility resources and life history data on British butterflies 339

5a: Adult environment 339

5b: Egg environment 341

5c: Larval environment 343

5d: Pupal environment 345

5e: Life history 346

6 Adult and larval behaviour in British butterflies 348

6a: Adult behaviour 348

6b: Larval behaviour 350

7 Biotopes for British butterflies 352

References 354

Index 389


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Author Information

Roger Dennis was educated at Oswestry School, Shropshire and at Durham University where he was awarded a Scholarship, a Class 1 BA in Geography and where later he obtained his PhD in Human Biology. After a short postdoctoral fellowship at Durham, he taught at The Manchester Grammar School until early retirement in 1993 following a spinal injury. Subsequently, he has received a succession of honorary research fellowships during which he has studied butterfly biogeography and ecology, producing over 175 publications. He is author of ‘The British Butterflies. Their Origin and Establishment’ (1977), ‘Butterflies and Climate Change’ (1993), joint author of ‘Butterflies on British and Irish Offshore Islands’ (1996) and edited ‘The Ecology of Butterflies in Britain’ (1992). He is currently an Honorary Visiting Professor at Staffordshire University and an Honorary Research Fellow at both NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, and in the School of Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University; he serves on the editorial board of four journals. In 2006, he received the Marsh Award for Lifetime Achievement in Lepidoptera Conservation. He lives in Cheshire with his wife Margaret and has one daughter, Pamela.
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"This book is an exceptional personal achievement as it provides a treatment of the ecological requirements of British butterflies based largely upon the author's lifetime of field observation and his collaborations with others . . . This is a remarkable synthesis of observation and independent thought and I am sure I will use my copy as a source of reference for a very diverse range of ecological topics as well." (British Ecological Society Bulletin, 2011)

"A series of interesting appendices on host plant and nectar plant resources and other utility resources and life history data on British butterflies will be a useful source of information to several researchers and students . . . I recommend this highly interesting and stimulating book to all conservation biologists, entomologists, and students in the field of conservation, entomology or general ecology. . . I see no reasons for not buying this book." (J Insect Conserv, 2010)

"This splendid book, lavishly produced and beautifully illustrated, is a ‘must have' publication not only for lepidopterologists, but also for any entomologist interested in insect ecology and conservation." (Fragmenta Entomologica, 2011)

"The author is a leading authority on butterflies, who has published both academic papers and books and this depth of knowledge is clearly evident in the book...The appendices alone are an achievement, useful to anyone who wants to quickly check larval hostplants, popular nectar sources or even the BAP status of species." (British Wildlife, January 2011)

"This ponderous book not only uses an enormous amount of literature data, but takes advantage from the life-span experience of the author...The entire book is splendidly illustrated. There are an extraordinary number of graphs (many original) and a good selection of beautiful photographs to illustrate biotopes and species. Printing quality is excellent. The price is fully justified and it is important to know that the author has offered to donate the royalties towards the work of Butterfly Conservation. The book should be essential reading for students and researchers in ecology and conservation, and those concerned with environmental management and assessment." (Biological Conservation, January 2011)

"Personally, I find this one of the most significant books published in my field over the last few years. I recommend this highly interesting and stimulating book to all conservation biologists, entomologists, and students in the field of conservation, entomology or general ecology." (British Wildlife , January 2011)

"[The] book should also inspire a wide range of people working on different taxonomic groups." (Journal of Insect Conservation, July 2010)

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Related Websites / Extra

Companion Site Click here to find copies of the figures and tables from the book for downloading, along with a PDF of the figure captions.
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