• Habitat matrix;
  • SADIE;
  • spatial ecology;
  • Tipula paludosa;
  • turfgrass
  1. The persistence of a species within a habitat patch is determined by the degree to which the habitat meets the species' biotic and abiotic requirements. Local-scale spatio-temporal population dynamics should be structured by the heterogeneity of these factors within the habitat patch.
  2. This study relates the abiotic (soil moisture) and biotic (plant community) factors defining a continuous turfgrass environment to the temporal population structure and spatial distribution of Tipula paludosa ontogenetic stages across 3 years of investigation.
  3. Populations declined greatly from first instar to pupa across all sites. Survival was greatest in soils with higher water-holding capacity. Intra-patch insect spatial distributions were associated with soil moisture but not with plant community distributions.
  4. A sink–source dynamic was evident. Low quality habitats could have high first instar populations, but these did not survive until pupation. Where high and low quality habitats intersected, there was a tendency for high quality habitats to be sparsely populated.
  5. Tipula paludosa spatio-temporal distributions are dynamic throughout the life cycle. This work suggests that population persistence within a habitat patch is determined by the quality of the habitat, largely defined by soil moisture, and the juxtaposition of high and low quality habitats within the patch.