Landscape element pattern and continuity of butterfly flight paths in an ecologically landscaped botanic garden, Natal, South Africa

Fragmentation and modification of the landscape with increasing human population pressure influences the movement patterns of animals. Butterfly flight paths are modified by the structure and orientation of the landscape elements arising from these landscape changes. Here, butterfly flight paths relative to landscape elements were mapped in the National Botanic Gardens, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, as part of an ecological landscaping project aimed at maximizing biodiversity conservation. Ecotones such as the edge of a water stand and of a forest were the most heavily used flight corridors. A disturbed and naturally regenerated mixed vegetation patch was also an important flight pathway. A stand of large exotic plane trees and cut grass had a highly negative influence, causing the butterflies to change direction. There were differences between species, with some finding the water stand a major barrier, and others not able to cross the forest. Knowledge of the interaction between landscape elements and butterflies, as well as many other animals, has important management implications. Biologically, it contributes to deciding where to position nectariferous and food plants, and socially it helps decide where the public may view butterflies.
Peer-reviewed article
Paul A. Wood, Michael J. Samways
Biological Conservation
South Africa
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