Long-term ecological monitoring of the Glanville fritillary metapopulation

 

Åland landscape by Marjo Saastamoinen

 

The main study system of our research group is the classic metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) butterfly in the Åland islands. This metapopulation has become a model system in understanding how habitat fragmentation impacts population dynamics. The backbone of many of our studies is the long-term (since 1993) ecological data-set of the butterfly occupancy and abundance in Åland, based on the bi-annual monitoring of all 4 500 potential habitat patches within the study area of 50 by 70 km – monitoring which was initiated by the late professor Ilkka Hanski. In addition to the exceptional demographic data we also have genomic tools available to study the impacts of habitat fragmentation and environmental change all the way from genes to the metapopulation dynamics. In our studies we generally combine ecological field experiments with more controlled laboratory experiments, which we often conduct in the butterfly rearing facilities at the Lammi Biological station.

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Expert comments on the significance of the long-term study system of the Glanville fritillary butterfly metapopulation in the Åland islands. Interviews of Professor Rosemary Grant, Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Professor Paul Brakefield, Professor Hanna Kokko and Professor Owen Lewis.