Habitat association and movement patterns of the violet copper (Lycaena helle) in the natural landscape of West Khentey in Northern Mongolia

Abstract

Gantigmaa Chuluunbaatar, Kamini Kusum Barua, Michael Muehlenberg

We studied the habitat association and movement patterns of the Lycaenidae species, Lycaena helle using the mark-release-recapture method in a heterogenous natural habitat of West Khentey in Northern Mongolia. Butterfly individuals were collected using nets during a standardized one hour sampling in different biotopes. L. helle was found to predominantly inhabit the wet mesophile grasslands and herb meadows, although moderate occurrences were also recorded in the riparian woodlands, birch forests of the river valley and in the mixed forests of Larix sibirica and Betula platyphylla. We investigated the movement patterns of the Violet Copper within ecologically open landscape and recorded individual occurrences across the different habitat types of West Khentey. The mean distances between first and subsequent captures were found to be greater for both the sexes (107 ± 76 m for females and 44 ± 41 m for males). The single greatest movement between recaptures was 386 m for females and 163 m for males. We could conclude from our studies that L. helle had a more closed distribution range within the natural landscape of our study area as the high plant diversity could be considered to be an important factor restricting their movement patterns as unlike that of their counterparts in fragmented landscapes of Central Europe.

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