Endangered butterfly returns to its habitat after ten years
Ljubljana, 1 July - The false ringlet, one of the most endangered butterfly species in Europe, has been brought back to the Ljubljana Marshes nature reserve after ten years.
Researcher Tatjana Čelik of the Jovan Hadži Institute of Biology, one of the leading biology research groups in Slovenia belonging to the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), was the one to carry out the major feat, the institute has said.
Breeding and reintroducing 120 false ringlets is an extraordinary scientific and environmental achievement, reads the institute's press release.
The project, aimed at protecting and boosting threatened species in the marshes, kicked off last year. Čelik captured six females that produced eggs in captivity.
She monitored the development of the caterpillars and provided optimal living conditions for them. Between mid-May and June most pupae were relocated to the Iški Morost nature reserve with some being returned to the original habitat.
Currently, winged adults are climbing out of the pupal skin and getting familiar with the marshes. The false ringlet prefers damp environments or even those that get occasionally flooded.
The second part of the project will be carried out next year. Altogether, the institute plans to reintroduce at least 240 pupae.
The false ringlet population in the Ljubljana Marshes had been scattered across the entire area of Slovenia's largest marsh until 1990, said Čelik. After 2001 the butterfly could be found only in the south-eastern part of the territory south of Ljubljana.
Its habitat has been reduced by more than 90% in the past 18 years, whereas the population size decreased by 75% as a result of intensive farming.