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Identification of potential source and sink areas for butterflies on the Iberian Peninsula

Pulido‐Pastor, Antonio, Márquez, Ana Luz, García‐Barros, Enrique, Real, Raimundo
Insect conservation and diversity 2018 v.11 no.5 pp. 479-492
biogeography, butterflies, environmental factors, fuzzy logic, geographical distribution, humans, mountains, national parks, topography, wildlife management, Iberian Peninsula
The dynamic analysis of geographical distribution is relevant to identify the processes that underlie any changes of geographical ranges. This is an essential element of both biogeography and conservation biology. Fuzzy logic, in particular the fuzzy concept of favourability for species occurrence, helps to perform a dynamic interpretation of the internal complexity of species ranges. We modelled the distributions of the 222 Iberian butterflies using favourability functions and 92 environmental variables (spatial, climatic, topographic, geological and indicators of human activity). We obtained a significant environmental favourability model for each butterfly. We identified the potential sources and sinks in the distribution area of each butterfly species using their respective favourability and presence–absence maps, considering as sources only those areas with high favourability where the butterfly is present, and sinks only those areas with low favourability where the butterfly is present too. The source areas for the Iberian butterflies are concentrated in the north of the peninsula, mainly in the mountain ranges (Cantabrian Range, Pyrenees and Central Range). Sink areas are more dispersed all around the peninsula. We found a concentration of sink locations in eastern Iberia (Alicante and Murcia provinces) and in the southwestern area (Doñana National Park). This may be helpful when implementing conservation measures, by providing a biogeographical dynamic interpretation of the roles of different parts of the distribution range of the species. Preserving the processes that link sources with sinks is critical for maintaining or improving the sustainability of populations.