Overview

Brief Summary

Rätzer's Ringlet is a satyrine butterfly discovered in 1882 by Swiss minister August Rätzer in the Laquinthal in the Simplon of Southern Switzerland (Schulz 1892, Rätzer 1893). Endemic to a small area in the subalpine region of the Swiss and Italian alps, this is one of Europe's rarest butterflies (Leigheb et al. 1998, Sonderegger 1996, van Swaay et al 2012). Due to its restricted range, the species was listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention (Council of Europe 1979).

The larvae of Erebia christi feed on Sheep Fescue (Festuca ovina), a densely tufted perennial grass. Like other alpine Erebias exposed to low average temperatures and a short growing season, Erebia christi caterpillars need two years to complete development, i.e., two winters are spent in the larval stage (Sonderegger 1996).

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Distribution

Range Description

The species occurs in a very small area in the southern part of the Simplon in Switzerland and Italy. In all, there are five locations known in Switzerland in an area of 10 x 10 km² and only two in Italy. It occurs between 1,600-1,900 m elevation. This is a European endemic species.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Rätzer’s Ringlet is found on steep, sunny slopes on acid soil with patches of grassy vegetation and rocks and scattered larch or fir trees. It is one of the rarest European butterflies, with not more than six or seven populations. The butterflies often bask in the sun with their wings wide open. The males congregate regularly on damp ground. The females visit different nectar plants and are especially fond of thyme. They lay their eggs on the dry grass stems of Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina). Before completing their development, the caterpillars hibernate twice. Detailed habitat descriptions are not available.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
B2ab(iii,v)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
van Swaay, C., Wynhoff, I., Verovnik, R., Wiemers, M., López Munguira, M., Maes, D., Sasic, M., Verstrael, T., Warren, M. & Settele, J.

Reviewer/s
Lewis, O. (Butterfly RLA) & Cuttelod, A. (IUCN Red List Unit)

Contributor/s

Justification
This endemic and local species is restricted to the border area of Switzerland and Italy. The species is known from seven locations and is reported to be declining in Italy. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

History
  • 2000
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Population

Population
This is a local species, restricted to (semi-) natural areas. A strong decline in distribution or population size of more than 30% has been reported from Italy (data provided by the national partners of Butterfly Conservation Europe). In Switzerland, in the 1980s, road building destroyed some of the largest subpopulations. After that there is no information on the trend in Switzerland.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The species is mainly threatened by habitat destruction. The species is popular with collectors, but there is no evidence to determine whether this is contributing to its decline.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is listed on the Habitats Directive Annexes 2 and 4 and Bern Convention Annex 2. More research is needed on the distribution and ecology of the species. Suitable habitats should be protected and appropriately managed. The effects of conservation actions should be monitored by a Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. In Italy, not all populations are in the European Natura 2000 networking programme areas.
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Wikipedia

Raetzer's Ringlet

The Raetzer's Ringlet (Erebia christi) is a species of butterfly in the Nymphalidae family. It is found in Italy and Switzerland. Its natural habitat is temperate grassland. It is one of the rarest European butterflies, having not more than six or seven populations.

Erebiachristi.jpg

Biology[edit]

The butterflies often bask in the sun with their wings wide open. The males congregate regularly on damp ground. The females visit different nectar plants and are especially fond of thyme. They lay their eggs on the dry grass stems of Festuca ovina. Before completing their development, the caterpillars hibernate twice.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ C. Van Swaay et al. (2012). "Dos and Don'ts for butterflies of the Habitats Directive of the European Union". Nature Conservation 1: 73. doi:10.3897/natureconservation.1.2786. 

Sources[edit]


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