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Data from: Long-term demographic surveys reveal a consistent relationship between average occupancy and abundance within local populations of a butterfly metapopulation

Citation

Schulz, Torsti; Vanhatalo, Jarno; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2019), Data from: Long-term demographic surveys reveal a consistent relationship between average occupancy and abundance within local populations of a butterfly metapopulation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ksn02v707

Abstract

Species distribution models are the tool of choice for large-scale population monitoring, environmental association studies, and predictions of range shifts under future environmental conditions. Available data and familiarity of the tools rather than the underlying population dynamics often dictate the choice of specific method — especially for the case of presence–absence data. Yet, for predictive purposes, the relationship between occupancy and abundance embodied in the models should reflect the actual population dynamics of the modelled species. To understand the relationship of occupancy and abundance in a heterogeneous landscape at the scale of local populations, we built a spatio-temporal regression model of populations of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) in a Baltic Sea archipelago. Our data comprised nineteen years of habitat surveys and snapshot data of land use in the region. We used variance partitioning to quantify relative contributions of land use, habitat quality, and metapopulation covariates. The model revealed a consistent and positive, but noisy relationship between average occupancy and mean abundance in local populations. Patterns of abundance were highly variable across years, with large uncorrelated random variation and strong local population stochasticity. In contrast, the spatio-temporal random effect, habitat quality, population connectivity, and patch size explained variation in occupancy, vindicating metapopulation theory as the basis for modelling occupancy patterns in fragmented landscapes. Previous abundance was an important predictor in the occupancy model, which points to a spillover of abundance into occupancy dynamics. While occupancy models can successfully model large-scale population structure and average occupancy, extinction probability estimates for local populations derived from occupancy-only models are overconfident, as extinction risk is dependent on actual, not average, abundance.

Methods

The data collection and processing are described in the published study. The code for analysis is included with the files.

Usage Notes

ECOG-04799

This file contains the data, workflow and scripts of the study. The associated README file in text and html format describe the data and how to re-run the analyses.