Ecology of tropical butterflies in rainforest gaps

Hill, J. K. and Hamer, K. C. and Tangah J. and Mahadimenakbar Mohd Dawood (2001) Ecology of tropical butterflies in rainforest gaps. Oecologia, 128 (2). pp. 294-302. ISSN 0029-8549


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Tropical forest gaps are ephemeral and patchily distributed within forest areas and have very different light environments compared with closed-canopy forest. We used fruit-baited traps to investigate if gaps are exploited by more opportunistic butterfly species compared with closed-canopy forest. Gaps supported a higher diversity of butterflies in terms of species evenness but closed-canopy sites contained species with more restricted geographical distributions. There was little similarity between the assemblages of butterflies trapped in the canopy and those in either gap or closed-canopy sites, but the greater similarity was with gaps, and increased diversity in gaps was partly due to canopy species turning up in gaps. Dispersal rates (as measured by recapture rates) were higher in gaps and there was evidence that butterflies in gaps had relatively larger and broader thoraxes, indicating a flight morphology adapted for faster flight. These results support the notion of a distinctive gap fauna comprising more widespread, mobile species. Habitat modification that opens up the canopy is likely to result in an increase in these widespread species and a decline in understorey species with restricted distributions.

Item Type: Article
Keyword: Fruit feeding butterflies, Rain forest, Neotropical butterflies, Species diversity, Temporal dimensions, Flight morphology, Understory birds, Treefall gaps, Wet forest, Disturbance
Subjects: S Agriculture > SD Forestry > SD1-669.5 Forestry > SD131-247.5 History of forestry. Forest conditions
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301-705.5 Biology (General) > QH540-549.5 Ecology
Q Science > QL Zoology > QL1-991 Zoology > QL360-599.82 Invertebrates > QL461-599.82 Insects
Department: INSTITUTE > Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Depositing User: ADMIN ADMIN
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2012 16:04
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 15:28

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