Abstract. 1. Mark–release–recapture studies were conducted on two species of chequerspot butterfly, Euphydryas aurinia and Melitaea phoebe, in the same habitat patch network in Yanjiaping, a small basin in the Taihang Mountains, north-west of Beijing, China, in 2000.
2. Euphydryas aurinia tended to stay in the habitat patches and to move to neighbouring patches, whereas M. phoebe moved widely among patches in the entire network.
3. The parameters of the virtual migration model showed higher daily emigration propensity in M. phoebe and in E. aurinia males than in E. aurinia females, and significantly greater average daily movement distance in M. phoebe than in E. aurinia.
4. The results are consistent with the previous findings showing genetic structuring among local populations of E. aurinia but not among local populations of M. phoebe.
5. Based on the genetic and ecological results, it was concluded that E. aurinia has a classic metapopulation in the study area, whereas M. phoebe appears to have a source–sink metapopulation.
6. In 2000, when there was an overall increase in the abundance of the two species, the limited mobility of E. aurinia resulted in an increase in the average local population size, whereas the increase in the number of local populations in M. phoebe was due to its high mobility.