Learn More
Habitat quality and metapopulation effects are the main hypotheses that currently explain the disproportionate decline of insects in cultivated Holarctic landscapes. The former assumes a degradation in habitat quality for insects within surviving ecosystems, the latter that too few, small or isolated islands of ecosystem remain in landscapes for populations(More)
Habitat degradation and climate change are thought to be altering the distributions and abundances of animals and plants throughout the world, but their combined impacts have not been assessed for any species assemblage. Here we evaluated changes in the distribution sizes and abundances of 46 species of butterflies that approach their northern climatic(More)
Ecological studies have been made of all 5 European species of Maculinea. These confirm that M. nausithous and M. rebeli live underground in Myrmica ant nests for 10 months of the year, as has long been known for the other 3 species. The main discovery was that each Maculinea species depends on a single, and different, host species of Myrmica. This(More)
There is growing concern about increased population, regional, and global extinctions of species. A key question is whether extinction rates for one group of organisms are representative of other taxa. We present a comparison at the national scale of population and regional extinctions of birds, butterflies, and vascular plants from Britain in recent(More)
  • J A Thomas
  • 2005
Conservative estimates suggest that 50-90% of the existing insect species on Earth have still to be discovered, yet the named insects alone comprise more than half of all known species of organism. With such poor baseline knowledge, monitoring change in insect diversity poses a formidable challenge to scientists and most attempts to generalize involve large(More)
Globally threatened butterflies have prompted research-based approaches to insect conservation. Here, we describe the reversal of the decline of Maculinea arion (Large Blue), a charismatic specialist whose larvae parasitize Myrmica ant societies. M. arion larvae were more specialized than had previously been recognized, being adapted to a single host-ant(More)
Maculinea butterflies in Europe, and probably most of Asia, are host specific social parasites of various species of Myrmica ants. The latest summary of field data showing the pattern of host specificity by Maculinea is presented. Myrmica ants have been well studied in the laboratory but much less is known about the ecology of their natural populations.(More)
Caterpillars of Maculinea arion are obligate predators of the brood of Myrmica sabuleti ants. In the aboratory, caterpillars eat the largest available ant larvae, although eggs, small larvae and prepupae are also palatable. This is an efficient way to predate. It ensures that newly-adopted caterpillars consume the final part of the first cohort of ant brood(More)
It has been suggested that the socially parasitic butterfly Maculinea alcon detects ant odours before ovipositing on initial larval food plants near colonies of its obligate ant host Myrmica ruginodis. It has also been suggested that overcrowding on food plants near M. ruginodis is avoided by an ability to detect high egg loads, resulting in a switch to(More)
The chemical signatures on the cuticles of five common Myrmica ant species were analysed (49 colonies of M. rubra, M. ruginodis, M. sabuleti, M. scabrinodis and M. schencki), each ant being the specific host of one of the five threatened European species of Maculinea butterfly. The cuticular hydrocarbon profile (based on the relative abundance of each(More)