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The landscape matrix modifies the effect of habitat fragmentation in grassland butterflies

  • Erik Ockinger
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
  • Markus Franzen
  • Tomas Kadlec
  • Jochen Krauss
  • Mikko Kuussaari
  • Juha Poyry
  • Henrik Smith
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
  • Riccardo Bommarco
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 121-131
Publication/Series: Landscape Ecology
Volume: 27
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

The landscape matrix is suggested to influence the effect of habitat fragmentation on species richness, but the generality of this prediction has not been tested. Here, we used data from 10 independent studies on butterfly species richness, where the matrix surrounding grassland patches was dominated by either forest or arable land to test if matrix land use influenced the response of species richness to patch area and connectivity. To account for the possibility that some of the observed species use the matrix as their main or complementary habitat, we analysed the effects on total species richness and on the richness of grassland specialist and non-specialist (generalists and specialists on other habitat types) butterflies separately. Specialists and non-specialists were defined separately for each dataset. Total species richness and the richness of grassland specialist butterflies were positively related to patch area and forest cover in the matrix, and negatively to patch isolation. The strength of the species-area relationship was modified by matrix land use and had a slope that decreased with increasing forest cover in the matrix. Potential mechanisms for the weaker effect of grassland fragmentation in forest-dominated landscapes are (1) that the forest matrix is more heterogeneous and contains more resources, (2) that small grassland patches in a matrix dominated by arable land suffer more from negative edge effects or (3) that the arable matrix constitutes a stronger barrier to dispersal between populations. Regardless of the mechanisms, our results show that there are general effects of matrix land use across landscapes and regions, and that landscape management that increases matrix quality can be a complement to habitat restoration and re-creation in fragmented landscapes.


  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Biodiversity
  • Butterflies
  • Connectivity
  • Habitat loss
  • Island
  • biogeography
  • Landscape matrix
  • Metapopulation
  • Species-area
  • relationship


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 1572-9761
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden