Research objectives and content
The aim of the present project is to evaluate the effects of landscape fragmentation on Lepidoptera populations. The fellowship will be focused on four species of day-flying moths, which differ in their regional distribution sizes. The project will ask whether differences in species distribution are determine by: (1) differences in resource availability (host plant distribution and abundance), (2) differences in host plant patches attribute (area, isolation and quality), or (3) differences in mobility, which affect the probability of host plant colonisation. The study area comprises the surroundings of Llandudno, North Wales, UK, where the landscape chiefly consists in 'improved' and remnant pastures, woodland fragments, hedgerows, ditches, scrub, and bracken, as well as village and suburban habitats. Field data will be recording of resource availability and presence-absence of the four species in study area at a hierarchy of levels (500, 50 and 5 m grid squares), density estimates of adults, eggs and larvae in relation to habitat attribute (area, shape isolation and several measures of quality) and migration rates of adults from MRR techniques and experimental releases.
The data collected will be fed into existing
spatially-explicit metapopulation models to make quantitative predictions about persistence and conservation of species populations in fragmented landscape.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The experience and training gained should provide a strong
foundation for future work on the effects of landscape structure change on biodiversity patterns in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe. Maintenance of biodiversity in current fragmentated landscape is a cornerstone for EU as well as national environmental policies. The general results obtained will be of widespread value in conservation strategies for a wide range of taxa across the world. Since virtually all natural habitats in Europe have become fragmented, the response of biodiversity to habitat fragmentation is a critical practical issue, as well as an important scientific question. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)