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Researchers document habitat preferences of butterflies

The current study has given a dataset for future assessment/monitoring and conservation of butterflies of the Western Ghats
Last Updated : 04 December 2021, 08:54 IST
Last Updated : 04 December 2021, 08:54 IST
Last Updated : 04 December 2021, 08:54 IST
Last Updated : 04 December 2021, 08:54 IST

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Researchers from Mangalore University in collaboration with researchers from Yenepoya University, Mangaluru and National Center for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru have identified 175 species and 43118 individual butterflies in eight locations ranging from coastal sand dunes to agricultural fields to botanical gardens to semi evergreen forests on the foothills of the Western Ghats in the Dakshina Kannada district.

Based on a two-year systematic survey of 43118 individuals from 175 species, researchers documented the abundance patterns and habitat preferences of butterflies of the Western Ghats, and provide a large baseline dataset for the future monitoring and conservation of butterflies of this ecologically sensitive region, said Dr M S Mustak from Department of Applied Zoology, Mangalore University, who was part of the study along with Deepak Naik, a PhD student.

The Western Ghats are an ecologically sensitive region. Ecological assessment and constant ecological monitoring are crucial. But even baseline data are scarce due to various reasons including limitations of funds, bureaucracy, and the lack of public appeal. Butterflies are the indicators of a healthy ecosystem.
The study gave quantitative data on the butterflies of the Western Ghats which is essential for public awareness and outreach, he said.

Some of the most abundant species are common crow (Euploea core), common emigrant (Catopsilia pomona), common fourring (Ypthima huebneri), tawny coster (Acraea terpsicore), lesser grass blue (Zizina otis), rustic (Cupha erymanthis), and chocolate pansy (Junonia iphita). Some species, though very abundant, are restricted to specific habitats. While tawny coster (Acraea terpsicore) is very common in coastal region, common bush hopper (Ampittia dioscorides) in agricultural habitats, and Malabar tree nymph (Idea malabarica) in semi evergreen forests. Some species such as common Mormon (Papilio polytes) and common leopard (Phalanta phalantha), though rare, are found everywhere.

The study also documented larval host plants, and over 283 habitat-specific host-butterfly species pair interactions. Butterfly communities indicate the type and state of the habitats, and can easily be conserved by the restoration of habitats with diverse host plants, he said.

The current study has given a dataset for future assessment/monitoring and conservation of butterflies of the Western Ghats. The work will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Insect Conservation- Springer-nature publication, Dr Mustak added.

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Published 04 December 2021, 08:54 IST

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