Special Issue "Butterfly Ecology and Conservation"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2018) | Viewed by 22274

Special Issue Editor

Dr. David G. James
E-Mail Website
Guest 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

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Butterflies are arguably the world’s most popular insects, but in many parts of the world butterfly faunas are suffering strong declines in diversity and abundance. Because of their immense visual appeal, they are increasingly being used as important flag-bearers of the movement to protect our pollinators. Studies on butterfly ecology and behavior have provided us with myriad insights into life histories, adaptation, defense, migration, evolution and host plant relationships. These studies have in turn provided information critical to the development of plans and strategies needed for conservation of threatened butterfly species. Without an understanding of basic biology and ecology, we are not well equipped to help protect and conserve butterfly species. For this Special Issue, we invite the submission of high-quality original research articles and mini-reviews on butterfly ecology and conservation.

Prof. Dr. David G. James
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ecology
  • conservation
  • butterflies

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Comparisons of Citizen Science Data-Gathering Approaches to Evaluate Urban Butterfly Diversity
Insects 2018, 9(4), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040186 - 06 Dec 2018
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4126
Abstract
By 2030, ten percent of earth’s landmass will be occupied by cities. Urban environments can be home to many plants and animals, but surveying and estimating biodiversity in these spaces is complicated by a heterogeneous built environment where access and landscaping are highly [...] Read more.
By 2030, ten percent of earth’s landmass will be occupied by cities. Urban environments can be home to many plants and animals, but surveying and estimating biodiversity in these spaces is complicated by a heterogeneous built environment where access and landscaping are highly variable due to human activity. Citizen science approaches may be the best way to assess urban biodiversity, but little is known about their relative effectiveness and efficiency. Here, we compare three techniques for acquiring data on butterfly (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) species richness: trained volunteer Pollard walks, Malaise trapping with expert identification, and crowd-sourced iNaturalist observations. A total of 30 butterfly species were observed; 27 (90%) were recorded by Pollard walk observers, 18 (60%) were found in Malaise traps, and 22 (73%) were reported by iNaturalist observers. Pollard walks reported the highest butterfly species richness, followed by iNaturalist and then Malaise traps during the four-month time period. Pollard walks also had significantly higher species diversity than Malaise traps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Larval Food Limitation in a Speyeria Butterfly (Nymphalidae): How Many Butterflies Can Be Supported?
Insects 2018, 9(4), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040179 - 02 Dec 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1385
Abstract
For herbivorous insects the importance of larval food plants is obvious, yet the role of host abundance and density in conservation are relatively understudied. Populations of Speyeria butterflies across North America have declined and Speyeria adiaste is an imperiled species endemic to the [...] Read more.
For herbivorous insects the importance of larval food plants is obvious, yet the role of host abundance and density in conservation are relatively understudied. Populations of Speyeria butterflies across North America have declined and Speyeria adiaste is an imperiled species endemic to the southern California Coast Ranges. In this paper, we study the link between the food plant Viola purpurea quercetorum and abundance of its herbivore Speyeria adiaste clemencei to better understand the butterfly’s decline and aid in restoration of this and other Speyeria species. To assess the degree to which the larval food plant limits adult abundance of S. a. clemencei in 2013, we compared adult population counts to population size predicted from a Monte Carlo simulation using data for number of V. pur. quercetorum plants, number of leaves per plant, and leaf area per plant, with lab estimates of leaf area consumed to reach pupal stage on the non-native host V. papilionacea. Results indicated an average estimate of 765 pupae (median = 478), with 77% of the distribution being <1000 pupae. However, this was heavily dependent on plant distribution, and accounting for the number of transect segments with sufficient host to support a pupa predicted 371 pupae. The adult population empirical estimate was 227 individuals (95% CI is 146 to 392), which lies near the first quartile of the simulated distribution. These results indicate that the amount of host available to larvae was more closely linked to adult abundance than the amount of host present, especially when considering assumptions of the analyses. The data also indicate that robust populations require host density well in excess of what is eaten by larvae, in combination with appropriate spacing, to mitigate factors such as competition, starvation from leaving host patches, or unrelated to food plant, such as mortality from drought, predators, parasites, or disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Drifting Phenologies Cause Reduced Seasonality of Butterflies in Response to Increasing Temperatures
Insects 2018, 9(4), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040174 - 30 Nov 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1737
Abstract
Climate change has caused many ecological changes around the world. Altered phenology is among the most commonly observed effects of climate change, and the list of species interactions affected by altered phenology is growing. Although many studies on altered phenology focus on single [...] Read more.
Climate change has caused many ecological changes around the world. Altered phenology is among the most commonly observed effects of climate change, and the list of species interactions affected by altered phenology is growing. Although many studies on altered phenology focus on single species or on pairwise species interactions, most ecological communities are comprised of numerous, ecologically similar species within trophic groups. Using a 12-year butterfly monitoring citizen science data set, we aimed to assess the degree to which butterfly communities may be changing over time. Specifically, we wanted to assess the degree to which phenological sensitivities to temperature could affect temporal overlap among species within communities, independent of changes in abundance, species richness, and evenness. We found that warming winter temperatures may be associated with some butterfly species making use of the coldest months of the year to fly as adults, thus changing temporal co-occurrence with other butterfly species. Our results suggest that changing temperatures could cause immediate restructuring of communities without requiring changes in overall abundance or diversity. Such changes could have fitness consequences for individuals within trophic levels by altering competition for resources, as well as indirect effects mediated by species interactions across trophic levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Field and Laboratory Studies on the Ecology, Reproduction, and Adult Diapause of the Asian Comma Butterfly, Polygonia c-aureum L. (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Insects 2018, 9(4), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040169 - 22 Nov 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1636
Abstract
Adult diapause and reproduction of a nymphalid butterfly, Polygonia c-aureum L., were investigated in field and laboratory examinations. Laboratory studies showed that old virgin male butterflies of non-diapausing generations had heavy accessory glands and simplex, which were suppressed in diapausing generations. The number [...] Read more.
Adult diapause and reproduction of a nymphalid butterfly, Polygonia c-aureum L., were investigated in field and laboratory examinations. Laboratory studies showed that old virgin male butterflies of non-diapausing generations had heavy accessory glands and simplex, which were suppressed in diapausing generations. The number of eupyrene sperm bundles in the duplex increased with adult age, whereas testis size decreased with age. Field examinations indicated that reproductive development of both sexes of diapausing generations in autumn was suppressed, and developed in spring. We attempted to estimate the physiological age of wild-caught males, as adult male age can be estimated from the testis size. We also attempted to determine whether or not wild male butterflies had mated from the development of the accessory glands and simplex, as well as the number of eupyrene sperm bundles in the duplex, by comparing unmated males with mated males. Field examinations suggest that almost all females in a population of non-diapausing generations mated and showed a tendency toward polyandry, while in the diapausing generation, in spring, monoandry rather than polyandry predominated. This suggests a different mating strategy between non-diapausing and diapausing generations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Climatic Niche Model for Overwintering Monarch Butterflies in a Topographically Complex Region of California
Insects 2018, 9(4), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040167 - 20 Nov 2018
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2414
Abstract
We use climatic conditions that are associated with known monarch butterfly overwintering groves in California to build a Maxent model, and focus on the fine scale probability of overwintering grove occurrence in a topographically complex region of the state (Santa Barbara County). Grove [...] Read more.
We use climatic conditions that are associated with known monarch butterfly overwintering groves in California to build a Maxent model, and focus on the fine scale probability of overwintering grove occurrence in a topographically complex region of the state (Santa Barbara County). Grove locations are known from recent and historical surveys and a long-term citizen science database. The climatic niche model performs well, predicting that overwintering habitat is most likely to occur along the coast and at low elevations, as shown by empirical data. We then use climatic variables in conjunction with climate change scenarios to model the future location of overwintering habitat, and find a substantial shift in the predicted distribution. Under a plausible scenario, the probability of occurrence of overwintering habitat directly reflects elevation, with coastal regions having a reduced probability relative to today, and higher elevation sites increasing in probability. Under a more extreme scenario, high probability sites are only located along ridgelines and in mountaintop regions of the county. This predicted shift in distribution is likely to have management implications, as sites that currently lack monarchs may become critical to conservation in the future. Our results suggest that estimating the size of the western overwintering population in the future will be problematic, unless annual counts compensate for a shift in the distribution and a potential change in the number and location of occupied sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Evaluating an Alleged Mimic of the Monarch Butterfly: Neophasia (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) Butterflies are Palatable to Avian Predators
Insects 2018, 9(4), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040150 - 29 Oct 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4215
Abstract
Some taxa have adopted the strategy of mimicry to protect themselves from predation. Butterflies are some of the best representatives used to study mimicry, with the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) a well-known model. We are the first to empirically investigate a [...] Read more.
Some taxa have adopted the strategy of mimicry to protect themselves from predation. Butterflies are some of the best representatives used to study mimicry, with the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) a well-known model. We are the first to empirically investigate a proposed mimic of the monarch butterfly: Neophasia terlooii, the Mexican pine white butterfly (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). We used captive birds to assess the palatability of N. terlooii and its sister species, N. menapia, to determine the mimicry category that would best fit this system. The birds readily consumed both species of Neophasia and a palatable control species but refused to eat unpalatable butterflies such as D. plexippus and Heliconius charithonia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Given some evidence for mild unpalatability of Neophasia, we discuss the results considering modifications to classic mimicry theory, i.e., a palatability-based continuum between Batesian and Müllerian mimicry, with a quasi-Batesian intermediate. Understanding the ecology of Neophasia in light of contemporary and historical sympatry with D. plexippus could shed light on the biogeography of, evolution of, and predation pressure on the monarch butterfly, whose migration event has become a conservation priority. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Better Understanding the Potential Importance of Florida Roadside Breeding Habitat for the Monarch
Insects 2018, 9(4), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040137 - 11 Oct 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1632
Abstract
The North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has declined significantly over the past two decades. Among the many other factors, loss of breeding habitat has been implicated as a potential leading driver. In response, wildlife agencies and conservation practitioners have [...] Read more.
The North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has declined significantly over the past two decades. Among the many other factors, loss of breeding habitat has been implicated as a potential leading driver. In response, wildlife agencies and conservation practitioners have made a strong push to restore and conserve milkweeds on both wild and managed landscapes including agricultural lands as well as transportation and utility rights-of-way. Roadsides in particular have been emphasized as a targeted landscape for monarch habitat restoration. While much attention has been focused on habitat in California, along the I-35 corridor from Texas to Minnesota, and more broadly across the agricultural Midwest, research on the occurrence of roadside breeding habitat and the development of best vegetative management practices conducted in the Deep South has been limited. We sampled roadside verges in north-central Florida for the presence of two early season milkweed species, that are particularly important for early season monarch recolonization, Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias humistrata. Our findings suggest that roadsides harbor extensive populations of the target milkweeds with the vast majority of plants occurring on the back slope of the verge. Alterations to current roadside mowing frequency and scope are needed to effectively conserve these populations and ensure that they are available for use by the monarch. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Experimental Manipulation of Dispersal Ability in A Neotropical Butterfly Anartia fatima (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Insects 2018, 9(3), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030107 - 22 Aug 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1806
Abstract
Research on endangered British butterflies has found that butterfly populations in small refuges evolve to allocate more mass to the thorax (flight muscle) and less to the abdomen than populations in large refuges. The observed change in mass allocation affects two morphological features [...] Read more.
Research on endangered British butterflies has found that butterfly populations in small refuges evolve to allocate more mass to the thorax (flight muscle) and less to the abdomen than populations in large refuges. The observed change in mass allocation affects two morphological features relevant to flight: the flight muscle ratio (FMR) and the position of center of body mass (cmbody). The author tested whether a decrease in FMR or a change in cmbody reduced the ability to disperse by experimentally weight-loading Neotropical Anartia fatima butterflies. In one treatment group, FMR was decreased but cmbody was not altered, whereas in the second group FMR was decreased and cmbody was repositioned further posterior. In one mark–release–recapture (MRR) experiment, butterflies dispersed relatively slowly, and treatment groups did not differ significantly. In a replicate experiment, butterflies dispersed more quickly, and control butterflies dispersed more rapidly than either treatment group. Differences in dispersal were consistent with a causal relationship between FMR and movement. A more posterior cmbody had little effect on dispersal beyond that due to the change in FMR. These results support the hypothesis that an increase in mass allocation to the thorax in small, dispersed refugia is due to selection on the ability to disperse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Changes in the Geographic Distribution of the Diana Fritillary (Speyeria diana: Nymphalidae) under Forecasted Predictions of Climate Change
Insects 2018, 9(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030094 - 02 Aug 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1988
Abstract
Climate change is predicted to alter the geographic distribution of a wide variety of taxa, including butterfly species. Research has focused primarily on high latitude species in North America, with no known studies examining responses of taxa in the southeastern United States. The [...] Read more.
Climate change is predicted to alter the geographic distribution of a wide variety of taxa, including butterfly species. Research has focused primarily on high latitude species in North America, with no known studies examining responses of taxa in the southeastern United States. The Diana fritillary (Speyeria diana) has experienced a recent range retraction in that region, disappearing from lowland sites and now persisting in two phylogenetically distinct high elevation populations. These findings are consistent with the predicted effects of a warming climate on numerous taxa, including other butterfly species in North America and Europe. We used ecological niche modeling to predict future changes to the distribution of S. diana under several climate models. To evaluate how climate change might influence the geographic distribution of this butterfly, we developed ecological niche models using Maxent. We used two global circulation models, the community climate system model (CCSM) and the model for interdisciplinary research on climate (MIROC), under low and high emissions scenarios to predict the future distribution of S. diana. Models were evaluated using the receiver operating characteristics area under curve (AUC) test and the true skill statistics (TSS) (mean AUC = 0.91 ± 0.0028 SE, TSS = 0.87 ± 0.0032 SE for representative concentration pathway (RCP) = 4.5; and mean AUC = 0.87 ± 0.0031 SE, TSS = 0.84 ± 0.0032 SE for RCP = 8.5), which both indicate that the models we produced were significantly better than random (0.5). The four modeled climate scenarios resulted in an average loss of 91% of suitable habitat for S. diana by 2050. Populations in the southern Appalachian Mountains were predicted to suffer the most severe fragmentation and reduction in suitable habitat, threatening an important source of genetic diversity for the species. The geographic and genetic isolation of populations in the west suggest that those populations are equally as vulnerable to decline in the future, warranting ongoing conservation of those populations as well. Our results suggest that the Diana fritillary is under threat of decline by 2050 across its entire distribution from climate change, and is likely to be negatively affected by other human-induced factors as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Ecology and Conservation)
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