Melanargia russiae (Esper, 1783) Esper's Marbled White, Echiquier de Russie, Бархатница русская, Ռուսական բազմակն
Distribution and biological peculiarities in Armenia: The species is distributed in Spain, Portugal, south-eastern France, Italy, Balkans, southern Russia, Caucasus and Western Siberia. Armenia is inhabited by subspecies M. r. caucasica Nordmann, 1851. This is a butterfly of mountain meadows, and relatively humid steppes, which occupies elevation range from 1800 to 2800 m a.s.l. The larva is growing on various Gramineae, such as Poa, Stipa, Brachypodium, Elytrigia, Agropyron, Dactylis, Phleum, and Bromus. The Esper's Marbled White gives one generation per year, having butterflies on wing from late June till mid August, depending on elevation.
Population dynamics: The species is uncommon to rare within the typical habitat. Population dynamics in 2003-2013 shows slight declining trend, but not on significant level (p>0.05). The species shows lower density in the degraded pasture-lands, which suggests that it could suffer from overgrazing.
Conservation measures: The species was evaluated for the Red Book of European Butterflies as a Least Concern, and is not included in the Global and National Red Lists, as well as in CITES and Bern conventions. Our assessment of its conservation status for Armenia suggests it as Near Threatened. At current the species' distribution is partly covered by some Protected Areas and Emerald Sites, although majority lays in the community lands allocated for grazing and mowing. Also the species is represented in the Prime Butterfly Areas Lichk, Gyumorats, Kajaran, Gnisheek, and Artanish-Shorzha. Among conservation measures it is recommended to continue the monitoring of Esper's Marbled White, in order to understand its population trend for a longer period. Such monitoring can be useful also for the pasture management, as indirectly can demonstrate dynamics of pasture productivity and species diversity.