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Flight areas of British butterflies: assessing species status and decline

Cowley, M J R, Thomas, C D, Thomas, J A and Warren, M S (1999) Flight areas of British butterflies: assessing species status and decline. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. pp. 1587-1592. ISSN 1471-2954

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Abstract

Geographical range size is a key ecological variable, but the consequences of measuring range size in different ways are poorly understood. We use high-resolution population data from British butterflies to demonstrate that conventional distribution maps, widely used by conservation biologists, grossly overestimate the areas occupied by species and grossly underestimate decline. The approximate flight areas occupied by 20 out of 45 colonial British species were estimated to cover a median of only 1.44% of the land surface within occupied regions. Common species were found to be declining faster than conventional distribution maps suggest: common and rare species had no significant difference in their population-level rates of extinction. This, combined with the log-normal form of the range-size frequency distribution, implies that species-level extinction rates may accelerate in the medium to long term. Population-level conservation is a matter of great urgency for all species, not just for the rarest.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 1999 The Royal Society. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: conservation, extinction, range size, IUCN
Academic Units: The University of York > Biology (York)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2013 14:39
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.1999.0819
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1296

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