Raúl Ochoa-Hueso, Daniel de la Puente Ranea, José Luis Viejo
Journal of Insect Science 14 (51), 1-14, (1 April 2014) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.014.51
KEYWORDS: habitat selection, larval host-plant, nectar
Butterfly community and single species based approaches were taken to establish conservation priorities within a nature reserve in Central Spain. In this study, patch type (sclerophyllous, halophilous, or disturbed), potential herbaceous nectar availability, potential woody plant nectar availability, total nectar availability, and two approximations to plant diversity (herbaceous and woody plant diversity) were evaluated as variables that account for adult butterfly density. Butterfly communities in the reserve, which consist mostly of generalist species, were denser in relatively wet areas dominated by halophilous vegetation. Diversity did not significantly vary between ecologically different transects. Total nectar availability correlated with higher butterfly densities within both undisturbed and disturbed areas, which could be primarily explained by the lack of water typical of semi-arid Mediterranean climates, where fresh, nectariferous vegetation is scarce. Woody plants were also found to be important sources of nectar and shelter. In the dryer sclerophyllous sites, adult butterfly density was best explained by herbaceous plant diversity, suggesting better quality of available resources. The endangered specialist Zerynthia rumina (L.) (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) was only present at the sclerophyllous sites. Its density was very low in all sampled transects, excluding one relatively isolated transect with high larval host-plant density. In contrast to the community-based approach, density of Z. rumina adults is better explained by the density of its larval host-plant than by nectar availability, a trend previously described for other sedentary species. Management strategies for protecting insect-rich areas should consider the specific ecological requirements of endangered species.