Topical Collection "Butterfly Biodiversity and Conservation"

A topical collection in Insects (ISSN 2075-4450). This collection belongs to the section "Insect Ecology, Diversity and Conservation".

Editors

Dr. David G. James
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department of Entomology, Washington State University, IAREC, 24106 N. Bunn Road, Prosser, WA 99350, USA
Interests: Lepidoptera; biology; conservation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Kathleen L. Prudic
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, 1064 East Lowell Street, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Interests: big data; butterflies; citizen science; conservation; ecology; pollinators

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Butterflies are the public face of insect decline. They are the insect world’s best ambassadors, capturing the minds and imaginations of people all over the world. However, our knowledge of these charismatic insects is still in many ways fragmentary and in need of serious amplification. We know surprisingly little about the biodiversity and life histories of butterflies, sometimes even of the more common species, which compromises our ability to develop and implement effective conservation programs for them. Even the well-studied North American butterfly fauna has yielded at least two new species within the past few years, and the life histories of the Pacific Northwest and UK butterfly faunas have only recently been described. In this Special Issue, we welcome contributions relating to the biodiversity and conservation of butterflies throughout the world.

Dr. David G. James
Dr. Kathleen L. Prudic
Collection Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • butterflies
  • biodiversity
  • conservation
  • life histories
  • decline

Published Papers (9 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020

Article
First Population Study on Winter Breeding Monarch Butterflies, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in the Urban South Bay of San Francisco, California
Insects 2021, 12(10), 946; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12100946 - 18 Oct 2021
Viewed by 512
Abstract
The western North American monarch butterfly population assessed by counts of non-reproductive overwintering butterflies at coastal sites in California declined to less than 2000 in 2020/21. Simultaneously, reports of reproductive monarchs increased in San Francisco urban areas, perhaps representing a shift in overwintering [...] Read more.
The western North American monarch butterfly population assessed by counts of non-reproductive overwintering butterflies at coastal sites in California declined to less than 2000 in 2020/21. Simultaneously, reports of reproductive monarchs increased in San Francisco urban areas, perhaps representing a shift in overwintering strategy. To better understand monarch winter breeding in the Bay area, we studied adult and immature populations in Santa Clara County during January–June 2021. Adult monarchs were common with numbers ranging from 0.23–1.54/min during ~30 min weekly surveys at one site, with lowest numbers late April to mid-May. Eggs and larvae, primarily on ornamental milkweeds, were found on nearly all survey dates with lowest numbers mid-late April to mid-May. Levels of infection of adults by the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha were consistently high during the study (69.3–77.5%). From 499 monarchs tagged post-eclosion, recovery rates of 19.2–23.6% occurred from releases in January-February and May-June but only 11.9–13.0% from March-April releases. Although distances were small, butterflies tagged in April were recovered from greater distances than other months. Tagged monarchs flew primarily north or east. There were reduced numbers of adult monarchs during late April-mid-May with some evidence of northerly and easterly emigration at the same time from tagged butterflies, suggesting some movement out of the South Bay area, perhaps representing spring migration. We conclude that monarchs can successfully breed and maintain populations on ornamental milkweeds during winter at urban sites in the South Bay of San Francisco and may still migrate during spring to remain part of the wider western population. Full article
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Article
High Survivorship of First-Generation Monarch Butterfly Eggs to Third Instar Associated with a Diverse Arthropod Community
Insects 2021, 12(6), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060567 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1279
Abstract
Based on surveys of winter roost sites, the eastern migratory population of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in North America appears to have declined in the last 20 years and this has prompted the implementation of numerous conservation strategies. However, there [...] Read more.
Based on surveys of winter roost sites, the eastern migratory population of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in North America appears to have declined in the last 20 years and this has prompted the implementation of numerous conservation strategies. However, there is little information on the survivorship of first-generation monarchs in the core area of occupancy in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana where overwinter population recovery begins. The purpose of this study was to determine the survivorship of first-generation eggs to third instars at a site in north Texas and to evaluate host plant arthropods for their effect on survivorship. Survivorship to third instar averaged 13.4% and varied from 11.7% to 15.6% over three years. The host plants harbored 77 arthropod taxa, including 27 predatory taxa. Despite their abundance, neither predator abundance nor predator richness predicted monarch survival. However, host plants upon which monarchs survived often harbored higher numbers of non-predatory arthropod taxa and more individuals of non-predatory taxa. These results suggest that ecological processes may have buffered the effects of predators and improved monarch survival in our study. The creation of diverse functional arthropod communities should be considered for effective monarch conservation, particularly in southern latitudes. Full article
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Article
Further Insights on the Migration Biology of Monarch Butterflies, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) from the Pacific Northwest
Insects 2021, 12(2), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020161 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1053
Abstract
The fall migration of monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.), in the Pacific Northwest was studied during 2017–2019 by tagging 14,040 captive-reared and 450 wild monarchs. One hundred and twenty-two captive-reared monarchs (0.87%) were recovered at distances averaging 899.9 ± 98.6 km for Washington-released [...] Read more.
The fall migration of monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.), in the Pacific Northwest was studied during 2017–2019 by tagging 14,040 captive-reared and 450 wild monarchs. One hundred and twenty-two captive-reared monarchs (0.87%) were recovered at distances averaging 899.9 ± 98.6 km for Washington-released and 630.5 ± 19.9 km for Oregon-released monarchs. The greatest straight-line release to recovery distance was 1392.1 km. A mean travel rate of 20.7 ± 2.2 km/day and maximum travel of 46.1 km/day were recorded. Recovery rates were greater for Oregon-released monarchs (0.92%) than Washington-released (0.34%) or Idaho-released monarchs (0.30%). Most monarchs (106/122) were recovered SSW-S-SSE in California, with 82 at 18 coastal overwintering sites. Two migrants from Oregon were recovered just weeks after release ovipositing in Santa Barbara and Palo Alto, CA. Two migrants released in central Washington recovered up to 360.0 km to the SE, and recoveries from Idaho releases to the S and SE suggests that some Pacific Northwest migrants fly to an alternative overwintering destination. Monarchs released in southern Oregon into smoky, poor quality air appeared to be as successful at reaching overwintering sites and apparently lived just as long as monarchs released into non-smoky, good quality air. Migration and lifespan for monarchs infected with the protozoan parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (McLaughlin and Myers), appeared to be similar to the migration and survival of uninfected monarchs, although data are limited. Our data improve our understanding of western monarch migration, serving as a basis for further studies and providing information for conservation planning. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021

Article
Miocene Diversification and High-Altitude Adaptation of Parnassius Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) in Qinghai–Tibet Plateau Revealed by Large-Scale Transcriptomic Data
Insects 2020, 11(11), 754; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11110754 - 03 Nov 2020
Viewed by 672
Abstract
The early evolutionary pattern and molecular adaptation mechanism of alpine Parnassius butterflies to high altitudes in Qinghai–Tibet Plateau are poorly understood up to now, due to difficulties in sampling, limited sequence data, and time calibration issues. Here, we present large-scale transcriptomic datasets of [...] Read more.
The early evolutionary pattern and molecular adaptation mechanism of alpine Parnassius butterflies to high altitudes in Qinghai–Tibet Plateau are poorly understood up to now, due to difficulties in sampling, limited sequence data, and time calibration issues. Here, we present large-scale transcriptomic datasets of eight representative Parnassius species to reveal the phylogenetic timescale and potential genetic basis for high-altitude adaptation with multiple analytic strategies using 476 orthologous genes. Our phylogenetic results strongly supported that the subgenus Parnassius formed a well-resolved basal clade, and the subgenera Tadumia and Kailasius were closely related in the phylogenetic trees. In addition, molecular dating analyses showed that the Parnassius began to diverge at about 13.0 to 14.3 million years ago (middle Miocene), correlated with their hostplant’s spatiotemporal distributions, as well as geological and palaeoenvironmental changes of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. Moreover, the accelerated evolutionary rate, candidate positively selected genes and their potentially functional changes were detected, probably contributed to the high-altitude adaptation of Parnassius species. Overall, our study provided some new insights into the spatiotemporally evolutionary pattern and high altitude adaptation of Parnassius butterflies from the extrinsic and intrinsic view, which will help to address evolution, biodiversity, and conservation questions concerning Parnassius and other butterfly species. Full article
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Article
A Unique Population in a Unique Area: The Alcon Blue Butterfly and Its Specific Parasitoid in the Białowieża Forest
Insects 2020, 11(10), 687; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11100687 - 12 Oct 2020
Viewed by 844
Abstract
Caterpillars of the Alcon blue butterfly Phengaris alcon are initially endophytic and feed inside the flowerheads of Gentiana plants, but complete their development as social parasites in the nests of Myrmica ants, where they are fed by workers. Its specific and complicated ecological [...] Read more.
Caterpillars of the Alcon blue butterfly Phengaris alcon are initially endophytic and feed inside the flowerheads of Gentiana plants, but complete their development as social parasites in the nests of Myrmica ants, where they are fed by workers. Its specific and complicated ecological requirements make P. alcon a very local, threatened species, sensitive to environmental changes. We investigated an isolated and previously unknown population in an area of high nature value—the Białowieża Forest (NE Poland). Using the mark–release–recapture method we estimated the seasonal number of adults at 1460 individuals, and their density (850/ha) was the highest among all populations using G. pneumonanthe studied so far. The site is also unique due to the presence of the specific parasitoid Ichneumon cf. eumerus, and parasitoids are considered the ultimate indicators of the biodiversity of Phengaris systems. Since 75.5% of P. alcon pupae were infested we could estimate the seasonal population of adult wasps at about 4500 individuals. The high abundance of both P. alcon and its parasitoid may be explained by favorable habitat characteristics, i.e., the strong presence of host plants and the high density of nests of Myrmica scabrinodis, which is the only local host ant of the butterfly. Full article
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Review
Butterfly Conservation in China: From Science to Action
Insects 2020, 11(10), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11100661 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1285
Abstract
About 10% of the Earth’s butterfly species inhabit the highly diverse ecosystems of China. Important for the ecological, economic, and cultural services they provide, many butterfly species experience threats from land use shifts and climate change. China has recently adopted policies to protect [...] Read more.
About 10% of the Earth’s butterfly species inhabit the highly diverse ecosystems of China. Important for the ecological, economic, and cultural services they provide, many butterfly species experience threats from land use shifts and climate change. China has recently adopted policies to protect the nation’s biodiversity resources. This essay examines the current management of butterflies in China and suggests various easily implementable actions that could improve these conservation efforts. Our recommendations are based on the observations of a transdisciplinary group of entomologists and environmental policy specialists. Our analysis draws on other successful examples around the world that China may wish to consider. China needs to modify its scientific methodologies behind butterfly conservation management: revising the criteria for listing protected species, focusing on umbrella species for broader protection, identifying high priority areas and refugia for conservation, among others. Rural and urban land uses that provide heterogeneous habitats, as well as butterfly host and nectar plants, must be promoted. Butterfly ranching and farming may also provide opportunities for sustainable community development. Many possibilities exist for incorporating observations of citizen scientists into butterfly data collection at broad spatial and temporal scales. Our recommendations further the ten Priority Areas of China’s National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011–2030). Full article
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Article
Spatial Distribution of Pollinating Butterflies in Yunnan Province, Southwest China with Resource Conservation Implications
Insects 2020, 11(8), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11080525 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
Pollinating butterflies are an important asset to agriculture, which still depends on wild resources. Yunnan Province in Southwest China is a region with typical montane agriculture, but this resource is poorly investigated. From literature reference and specimen examination, the present study identified 554 [...] Read more.
Pollinating butterflies are an important asset to agriculture, which still depends on wild resources. Yunnan Province in Southwest China is a region with typical montane agriculture, but this resource is poorly investigated. From literature reference and specimen examination, the present study identified 554 species of pollinating butterflies (50.8% of the total butterflies) from Yunnan, with family Nymphalidae possessing the least number of pollinators (80 species, 16.0%), while the remaining four families are pollinator-rich (>73%). Tropical lowlands and mountain-valley areas possess higher species richness than those with plain terrains. The species richness of pollinating butterflies in Yunnan does not simply decline with the increase of latitude, nor is significantly different between West and East Yunnan. Zonation of pollinating butterflies using the parsimony analysis of endemicity (PAE) identified nine distribution zones and ten subzones. Most areas of endemism (AOE) are found in lowlands or mountain-valley areas, complexity of terrains, climates, and vegetation types are believed to be the main causes of such endemicity. The potential pollinating service of these butterflies could be great to montane agriculture with expanding areas of cash crops and fruit horticulture. Conservation strategies for pollinating butterflies may consist of preserving habitats and establishing butterfly-friendly agriculture based on local traditions. Full article
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Article
Are the Yellow and Red Marked Club-Tail Losaria coon the Same Species?
Insects 2020, 11(6), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11060392 - 24 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1390
Abstract
Losaria coon (Fabricius, 1793) is currently comprised of ten subspecies, which were originally described under two names, Papilio coon and P. doubledayi before 1909, when they were combined as one species. The main difference between them is the colour of abdomen and hindwing [...] Read more.
Losaria coon (Fabricius, 1793) is currently comprised of ten subspecies, which were originally described under two names, Papilio coon and P. doubledayi before 1909, when they were combined as one species. The main difference between them is the colour of abdomen and hindwing subterminal spots—yellow in coon and red in doubledayi. Wing morphology, male and female genitalia, and molecular evidence (DNA barcodes) were analysed for multiple subspecies of L. coon and three other Losaria species—rhodifer, neptunus, and palu. Our molecular data support the separation of L. coon and L. doubledayi stat. rev. as two distinct species, with L. rhodifer positioned between them in phylogenetic analyses. Wing morphology and genitalic structures also confirm the molecular conclusions. Our findings divide L. coon into two species occupying different geographic ranges: with L. coon restricted to southern Sumatra, Java, and Bawean Island, while L. doubledayi occurs widely in regions from North India to northern Sumatra, including Hainan and Nicobar Islands. Hence, future conservation efforts must reassess the status and threat factors of the two species to form updated strategies. Full article
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Article
Her Majesty’s Desert Throne: The Ecology of Queen Butterfly Oviposition on Mojave Milkweed Host Plants
Insects 2020, 11(4), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040257 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1411
Abstract
Butterfly–host plant relationships can inform our understanding of ecological and trophic interactions that contribute to ecosystem function, resiliency, and services. The ecology of danaid–milkweed (Apocynaceae) host plant interactions has been studied in several biomes but is neglected in deserts. Our objective was to [...] Read more.
Butterfly–host plant relationships can inform our understanding of ecological and trophic interactions that contribute to ecosystem function, resiliency, and services. The ecology of danaid–milkweed (Apocynaceae) host plant interactions has been studied in several biomes but is neglected in deserts. Our objective was to determine effects of plant traits, seasonality, and landscape-level host plant availability on selection of Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia A. Gray) by ovipositing monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) and queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus thersippus) in the Californian Mojave Desert. We surveyed all known Mojave milkweed locations in the Ivanpah Valley, California (n = 419) during early, mid-, and late spring in 2017. For each survey, we counted monarch and queen butterfly eggs on each Mojave milkweed plant. We also measured canopy cover, height, volume, and reproductive stage of each Mojave milkweed plant. We counted a total of 276 queen butterfly eggs and zero monarch butterfly eggs on Mojave milkweed host plants. We determined that count of queen butterfly eggs significantly increased with increasing Mojave milkweed canopy cover. Additionally, count of queen butterfly eggs was: (1) greater on adult Mojave milkweed plants than on juvenile and seedling plants and greater on juvenile Mojave milkweed plants than on seedling plants; and (2) greater during early spring than mid-spring—we recorded no eggs during late spring. Based on aggregation indices, queen butterfly eggs occurred on Mojave milkweed plants in a nonrandom, clustered pattern throughout the Ivanpah Valley. We provide the first evidence of trophic interactions between queen butterflies and Mojave milkweed at multiple spatial scales in the Mojave Desert, suggesting that conservation and management practices for both species should be implemented concurrently. Given its role as an herbivore, pollinator and prey, the queen butterfly may serve as a model organism for understanding effects of anthropogenic disturbance (e.g., solar energy development) on “bottom-up” and trophic interactions among soils, plants and animals in desert ecosystems. Full article
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