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Szentirmai I.,Orseg National Park Directorate | Mesterhazy A.,Hunyadi u. 55. | Varga I.,Ministry of Agriculture | Schubert Z.,Jozsef Attila u. 35. | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Insect Conservation

The Danube Clouded Yellow (Colias myrmidone) is one of the most endangered butterflies in Europe. Its distribution range shrank dramatically in the last few decades due to the extinction of populations in Western and Central Europe. Ecological studies were commenced when populations were already at the verge of extinction, thus our knowledge on the population ecology and habitat use of this butterfly is very limited. Here we report the results of a study on habitat preferences, egg distribution and demography of C. myrmidone in Romania, perhaps the last remaining stronghold of the species in Central Europe. We found that Danube Clouded Yellow adults occurred mainly in mesophilous grasslands created by forest clearing and then maintained by low intensity grazing allowing bushes and forest-edge vegetation to develop and host Chamaecytisus species to grow. Butterflies highly preferred lightly grazed pastures over hay meadows and abandoned grasslands, their density was positively related to host plant density. Egg-laying females preferred habitat patches with relatively high cover of the host plant and tall vegetation. Both apparent survival rate and encounter probability were lower for females than males, and parameter estimations also had much higher errors for females. These indicate that much higher sampling effort is needed to estimate and monitor population parameters for females than for males. Our results provide guidelines for the habitat management and population monitoring of Colias myrmidone, thus may significantly contribute to its successful conservation. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Source

Korosi A.,MTA ELTE MTM Ecology Research Group | Korosi A.,University of Wurzburg | Szentirmai I.,Orseg National Park Directorate | Batary P.,University of Gottingen | And 3 more authors.
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

As part of a major transformation of the EU agriculture in the last few decades, traditional land-use types disappeared due to either intensification or abandonment. Grasslands are highly affected in this process and are consequently among the most threatened semi-natural habitats in Europe. However, experimental evidence is scarce on the effects of management types on biodiversity. Moreover, management types need to be feasible within the recently changed socio-economic circumstances in Hungary. We investigated the effects of timing and frequency of mowing on the abundance of the scarce large blue butterfly (Phengaris teleius), on the abundance of its host plant and on the frequency of its host ant species. In each of four study meadows, we applied four types of management: one cut per year in May, one cut per year in September, two cuts per year (May and September) and cessation of management. After three years of experimental management, we found that adult butterflies preferred plots cut once in September over plots cut twice per year and abandoned ones, while plots cut once in May were also preferred over abandoned plots. Relative host plant abundance remarkably increased in plots cut once in September. Management did not affect the occupancy pattern of Myrmica host ants. Invasive goldenrod was successfully retained by two cuts per year. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to test management effects on the whole community module of a socially parasitic butterfly, its host plant and host ants. Based on the results, we provide recommendations on regional management of the scarce large blue's habitats. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Babai D.,Center for the Humanities | Toth A.,Oriszentpeter City Council | Szentirmai I.,Orseg National Park Directorate | Biro M.,Center for Ecological Research | And 7 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation

High biocultural diversity is often found in landscapes where farming practices have preserved diverse habitats and many ‘traditional’ cultural features. We assessed what impacts conservation and agri-environmental regulations had and have on the maintenance of some elements in traditional hay meadow management in two such cultural landscapes (Gyimes—Romania; Őrség—Hungary). Data were gathered by interviews with local farmers and conservation scientists, discussed with farmers. We found that extensive farming was not given adequate weight and explicit function in the regulatory frameworks either in the landscape where traditional farming is still actively practiced, or where it has mostly vanished and/or was transformed. Of the 25 traditional management elements documented in Gyimes, regulations affected seven components directly, and one more indirectly. Four of these impacts were negative and four were positive. Of the 20 traditional management elements in Őrség, 11 elements were regulated, and five more were affected indirectly. Only two elements were affected positively. Our data show that for a more efficient support of traditional farming, more traditional elements must be encouraged, e.g. hayseed scattering, mowing with small machinery, manual cleaning of weeds and shrubs, manual hay gathering and extensive manuring. The role of increasing the spatial scale of regulations, considering the whole socio-ecological system and the need for region-specific regulations are discussed. We argue that in those landscapes where traditional small-scale farming is still actively practiced, decision-makers should understand local management practices and concepts first, instead of imposing requirements on farmers that are alien to the local landscape and society. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

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