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Movement of the Apollo butterfly Parnassius apollo related to host plant and nectar plant patches


Jon Brommer, Department of Ecology and Systematics, Division of Population Biology, PO Box 17 (Arkadiavägen 7), FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland. E-mail:


1. The movement of adults of the endangered Apollo butterfly, Parnassius apollo, was studied using mark–recapture data, within a population consisting of discrete patches of the species’ host plant (n = 43), which were segregated spatially from patches of the species’ main nectar plants (n = 14).

2. The Apollo routinely moved large distances (median 260 m, maximum 1840 m), and moved frequently between the two types of patches. Only 27% (28/105) of the recaptures were made on the same host plant patch as the release.

3. The population acts as a patchy population where the adults mix over the whole area, but successful reproduction can only take place in the discrete host plant patches.

4. Occurrence on a host plant patch was restricted by the area size of the host plant patch and the spatial configuration of nectar plant patches. Thus, although the Apollo is a good flyer, its movement over the patches is still constrained by the segregation of adult and larval resources.