Behavioural responses to habitat patch boundaries restrict dispersal and generate emigration–patch area relationships in fragmented landscapes


Nicolas Schtickzelle (tel. +32 10 47 20 52, fax +32 10 47 34 90, e-mail Michel Baguette (e-mail:


  • 1We studied the consequences of behaviour at habitat patch boundaries on dispersal for the bog fritillary butterfly Proclossiana eunomia Esper in two networks of habitat differing in fragmentation and matrix quality. We tested for differences in responses to patch boundaries according to the fragmentation level of the network by analysing movement paths of adult butterflies.
  • 2Butterflies systematically engaged in U-turns when they reached a boundary in the fragmented network while they crossed over boundaries in more than 40% of boundary encounters in the continuous one.
  • 3We applied the Virtual Migration model (Hanski, Alho & Moilanen 2000) to capture–mark–recapture data collected in both networks. The model indicated (i) a lower dispersal rate and (ii) a lower survival during dispersal in the fragmented network. This latter difference is likely to be the key biological process leading to behavioural avoidance of patch boundary crossings.
  • 4On the basis of this behavioural difference, we designed an individual-based simulation model to explore the relationship between patch area, boundary permeability and emigration rate.
  • 5Predictions of the model fitted observed results of the effect of patch area on emigration rate according to fragmentation: butterflies are more likely to leave small patches than large ones in fragmented landscapes (where patch boundary permeability is low), while this relationship disappears in more continuous landscapes (where patch boundary permeability is high).