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Butterfly assemblages in a traditional agricultural landscape: importance of secondary forests for conserving diversity, life history specialists and endemics

Ohwaki, Atsushi, Tanabe, Shin-Ichi, Nakamura, Koji
Biodiversity and conservation 2007 v.16 no.5 pp. 1521-1539
anthropogenic activities, butterflies, edge effects, grasses, herbs, host plants, host range, indigenous species, multivoltine habit, paddies, secondary forests, species diversity, surveys, univoltine habit, Japan
Satoyama, the traditional agricultural landscape in Japan, has drawn much attention from the viewpoint of biodiversity conservation. It is composed of diverse vegetation types, including secondary forests, paddy fields and cultivated fields in a narrow area (ca. 1 km²). To clarify the characteristics of butterfly assemblage and the relative contribution of each vegetation type to butterfly diversity and endemism in satoyama, we conducted a line-transect survey along a 1.1-km route with five sections (two forest interior, one interior-edge, one edge-openland and one openland). Life history features (voltinism, host plant range and host plant type) and endemism of butterflies were discussed in relation to their abundance and vegetation association. Fifty-one species and 856 individuals were recorded. Species richness was highest in the two sections with edges, 32 and 36 species, respectively. Analysis of vegetation association of each butterfly species showed that 16 species were forest interior species, 24 forest edge species and 11 openland species, indicating that vegetation diversity enhanced butterfly diversity. However, the point is that forest interior and edge species contained many specialists sensitive to human impact (univoltine and/or oligophagous species) and many species within temperate East Asia including all endemic species. In contrast, most openland species were generalists (multivoltine and/or polyphagous species) feeding on herbs/grasses with the widest geographic range. Since secondary forests kept more butterfly diversity and specialists than openlands, and had all endemic species, they must be maintained without over fragmentation in order to avoid loss of specialists and endemics in satoyama.