Seasonal patterns in butterfly abundance and species diversity in four tropical habitats in northern Western Ghats
In northern Western Ghats (India), four tropical habitats with different disturbance levels were monitored for diversity and seasonal patterns in butterfly communities. Species richness was highest in late monsoon and early winter. Majority of the butterfly species also showed abundance peaks in these seasons. Fire played a significant role in determining species composition in fire-afflicted areas and affected flight periods of some species but did not affect species richness. Grazing had a major impact on species composition and it favoured only those Lycaenids and Nymphalids whose caterpillars feed on herbs. In case of one of the sites where phenophases of the larval foodplant and population trend of a small Lycaenid was documented, the population showed rapid increase at the time when the plants were in suitable phenophase for growth of the caterpillars. A possible evolutionary interaction between herb-feeding and non-herb-feeding Lycaenids is proposed.
KeywordsButterfly communities population dynamics species richness grazing
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