Population structure of a large blue butterfly and its specialist parasitoid in a fragmented landscape

Christian Anton, Inga Zeisset, Martin Musche, Walter Durka, Jacobus Boomsma, Josef Settele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Habitat fragmentation may interrupt trophic interactions if herbivores and their specific parasitoids respond differently to decreasing connectivity of populations. Theoretical models predict that species at higher trophic levels are more negatively affected by isolation than lower trophic level species. By combining ecological data with genetic information from microsatellite markers we tested this hypothesis on the butterfly Maculinea nausithous and its specialist hymenopteran parasitoid Neotypus melanocephalus. We assessed the susceptibility of both species to habitat fragmentation by measuring population
density, rate of parasitism, overall genetic differentiation (θST) and allelic richness in a large metapopulation. We also simulated the dynamics of genetic differentiation among local populations to asses the relative effects of migration rate, population size, and haplodiploid (parasitoid) and diploid (host) inheritance on metapopulation persistence. We show that parasitism by N. melanocephalus is less frequent at larger distances to the nearest neighbouring population of
M. nausithous hosts, but that host density itself is not affected by isolation. Allelic richness was independent of isolation, but the mean genetic differentiation among local parasitoid populations increased with the distance between these populations. Overall, genetic differentiation in the parasitoid wasp was much greater than in the butterfly host and our simulations indicate that this difference is due to a combination of haplodiploidy and small local population sizes. Our results thus support the hypothesis that Neotypus parasitoid wasps are more sensitive to habitat fragmentation than their
Maculinea butterfly hosts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3828-3838
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2007


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