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1 January 2016 A Comparison of Lepidoptera Communities Inhabiting Restored and Late Successional Pitch Pine—Scrub Oak Barrens in Pennsylvania
Wendy Leuenberger, Scott Bearer, Joseph Duchamp, Steve Johnson, Betsy Leppo, Pat McElhenny, Jeffery Larkin
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Abstract

Scrub oak barrens were once distributed throughout portions of the northeastern United States. This fire-dependent community covered over 809,000 ha in Pennsylvania during the mid-1900s, but was reduced to about 7132 ha by the late 1900s. Decline of scrub oak barrens is attributed to development, fire suppression, and colonization by fire-intolerant trees. Scrub oak barrens are a state imperiled ecosystem and in recent years, efforts to restore late successional barrens through mechanical cutting and prescribed fire have been initiated in Pennsylvania. Scrub oak barrens support high species richness, including several rare or declining species of plants and animals. This ecosystem is also known for supporting rare Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species. We used light traps and bait stations to compare Lepidoptera communities in restored and late successional scrub oak barrens in northeastern Pennsylvania. A total of 13,386 individuals were identified, representing 373 species. Nine species are state-listed, with four of these species detected exclusively in restored barrens. Few differences in Lepidoptera species richness, diversity, or abundance were found between restored and late successional barrens. Moth communities were similar across all sites and forb presence partially explained moth variance. Several species (n = 197) were found in both restored and late successional sites. However, several species were unique to restored (n = 128) and late successional sites (n = 48). Our findings suggest scrub oak barrens should be managed to create a mosaic of successional stages throughout the landscape if Lepidoptera diversity is a conservation goal.

Wendy Leuenberger, Scott Bearer, Joseph Duchamp, Steve Johnson, Betsy Leppo, Pat McElhenny, and Jeffery Larkin "A Comparison of Lepidoptera Communities Inhabiting Restored and Late Successional Pitch Pine—Scrub Oak Barrens in Pennsylvania," Natural Areas Journal 36(1), 38-47, (1 January 2016). https://doi.org/10.3375/043.036.0109
Published: 1 January 2016
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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