GB No. 2(13)/94


The decline of the apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo) observed in Northern and Central Europe has not avoided the population in the Pieniny National Park in the mountains of southern Poland. Now the local subspecies is on the brink of extinction, and there is an urgent need to increase the number of individuals and the population range. The restoration program includes three activities: habitat preparation and restoration, research into the unknown factors related to a successful restoration process, and a captive breeding program. Workers are studying the basic conditions needed for the existence of the apollo butterfly in the Pieniny National Park, including the climatic requirements of the butterflies and the range of open, xerothermic grassland communities (their preferred habitat), as well as the abundance and distribution of Sedum maximum, the host plant of the caterpillars.

The population dynamics of the apollo butterfly in the Pieniny Mountains can be traced through references dating back almost 150 years. After the second half of the 19th century, the previously large metapopulation slowly became divided into several small, isolated groups which gradually died out. After a catastrophic climatic event in 1961 in the Pieniny Mountains, only a few small populations were left. Almost 50 years of observations of the abundance of the populations on the Nowa Góra and Trzy Korony mountains confirm the gradual decrease which has been noted over the past 150 years. Now the Pieniny apollo exists in only one locality, on the massif of Trzy Korony. During the past two years, fewer than 20 individuals have been observed.

Among the natural factors which may be contributing to the decline of the apollo population are parasites of caterpillars, predators, and competitors feeding on Sedum sp. The genetic erosion of the population also constitutes a threat. But there are, of course, anthropogenic factors threatening the population -- the devastation of the apollo's habitat, overcollection, and air pollution, which causes a high concentration of cadmium in the host plants. The planned completion of the nearby Czorstyni dam may alter the local microclimate and constitute the final blow to the population.

on the basis of the article
by Z. Witkowski, J. Budzik and A. Kosior

in Chrońmy Przyrodę Ojczyst±, 1992, p 3-4

i Polish NGO's faild in their struggle to stop the construction of the dam, which is to be completed in 1996.
GB No. 2(13)/94 | Contents