Delayed population explosion of an introduced butterfly.
1. The causes of lagged population and geographical range expansions after species introductions are poorly understood, and there are relatively few detailed case studies. 2. We document the 29-year history of population dynamics and structure for a population of Euphydryas gillettii Barnes that was introduced to the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA in 1977. 3. The population size remained low (< 200 individuals) and confined to a single habitat patch (approximately 2.25 ha) to 1998. These values are similar to those of many other populations within the natural geographical range of the species. 4. However, by 2002 the population increased dramatically to > 3000 individuals and covered approximately 70 ha, nearly all to the south of the original site. The direction of population expansion was the same as that of predominant winds. 5. By 2004, the butterfly's local distribution had retracted mainly to three habitat patches. It thus exhibited a 'surge/contraction' form of population growth. Searches within 15 km of the original site yielded no other new populations. 6. In 2005, butterfly numbers crashed, but all three habitat patches remained occupied. The populations within each patch did not decrease in the same proportions, suggesting independent dynamics that are characteristic of metapopulations. 7. We postulate that this behaviour results, in this species, in establishment of satellite populations and, given appropriate habitat structure, may result in lagged or punctuated expansions of introduced populations.
Boggs, CL; Holdren, CE; Kulahci, IG; Bonebrake, TC; Inouye, BD; Fay, JP; McMillan, A; Williams, EH; Ehrlich, PR
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