Multiscale models for movement in oriented environments and their application to hilltopping in butterflies

Kevin J. Painter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Hilltopping butterflies direct their movement in response to topography, facilitating mating encounters via accumulation at summits. In this paper, we take hilltopping as a case study to explore the impact of complex orienteering cues on population dynamics. The modelling employs a standard multiscale framework, in which an individual's movement path is described as a stochastic 'velocity-jump' process and scaling applied to generate a macroscopic model capable of simulating large populations in landscapes. In this manner, the terms and parameters of the macroscopic model directly relate to statistical inputs of the individual-level model (mean speeds, turning rates and turning distributions). Applied to hilltopping in butterflies, we demonstrate how hilltopping acts to aggregate populations at summits, optimising mating for low-density species. However, for abundant populations, hilltopping is not only less effective but also possibly disadvantageous, with hilltopping males recording a lower mating rate than their non-hilltopping competitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-75
Number of pages23
JournalTheoretical Ecology
Issue number1
Early online date1 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Butterfly populations
  • Mate location
  • Multiscale models
  • Oriented movement
  • Topographical cues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Ecology


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