Elevational distribution of butterflies in the Himalayas: a case study from Langtang National Park, Nepal
Mountain ecosystems are relatively more vulnerable to climate change since human induced climate change is projected to be higher at high altitudes and latitudes. Climate change induced effects related to glacial response and water hazards have been documented in the Himalayas in recent years, yet studies regarding species’ response to climate change are largely lacking from the mountains and Himalayas of Nepal. Changes in distribution and latitudinal/altitudinal range shift, which are primary adaptive responses to climate change in many species, are largely unknown due to unavailability of adequate data from the past. In this study, we explored the elevational distribution of butterflies in Langtang Village Development Committee (VDC) of Langtang National park; a park located in the high altitudes of Nepal. We found a decreasing species richness pattern along the elevational gradient considered here. Interestingly, elevation did not appear to have a significant effect on the altitudinal distribution of butterflies at family level. Also, distribution of butterflies in the area was independent of habitat type, at family level. Besides, we employed indicator group analysis (at family level) and noticed that butterfly families Papilionidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae are significantly associated to high, medium and low elevational zone making them indicator butterfly family for those elevational zones, respectively. We expect that this study could serve as a baseline information for future studies regarding climate change effects and range shifts and provide avenues for further exploration of butterflies in the high altitudes of Nepal.
KeywordsButterflies Indicator species Nepal Range shift Climate change Himalayas
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This study was funded by The Rufford Foundation (http://www.rufford.org/). We would like to thank Dr. Monica Papeş (graduate supervisor of the first author) for her constructive guidance during the proposal development. Also, we thank all the referees and the reviewers
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