Trade‐offs for butterfly alpha and beta diversity in human‐modified landscapes and tropical rainforests

Sambhu, Hemchandranauth, Nankishore, Alliea, Turton, Stephen M., and Northfield, Tobin D. (2018) Trade‐offs for butterfly alpha and beta diversity in human‐modified landscapes and tropical rainforests. Ecology and Evolution, 8 (24). pp. 12918-12928.

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The accelerating expansion of human populations and associated economic activity across the globe have made maintaining large, intact natural areas increasingly challenging. The difficulty of preserving large intact landscapes in the presence of growing human populations has led to a growing emphasis on landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation with a complementary strategy focused on improving conservation in human‐modified landscapes. This, in turn, is leading to intense debate about the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in human‐modified landscapes and approaches to better support biodiversity in those landscapes. Here, we compared butterfly abundance, alpha richness, and beta diversity in human‐modified landscapes (urban, sugarcane) and natural, forested areas to assess the conservation value of human‐modified landscapes within the Wet Tropics bioregion of Australia. We used fruit‐baited traps to sample butterflies and analyzed abundance and species richness in respective land uses over a one‐year period. We also evaluated turnover and spatial variance components of beta diversity to determine the extent of change in temporal and spatial variation in community composition. Forests supported the largest numbers of butterflies, but were lowest in each, alpha species richness, beta turnover, and the spatial beta diversity. Sugarcane supported higher species richness, demonstrating the potential for conservation at local scales in human‐modified landscapes. In contrast, beta diversity was highest in urban areas, likely driven by spatial and temporal variation in plant composition within the urban landscapes. Thus, while improving conservation on human‐modified landscapes may improve local alpha richness, conserving variation in natural vegetation is critical for maintaining high beta diversity.

Item ID: 56877
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: butterfly conservation, land management practices, landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation, sugarcane cultivation, urban green spaces, Wet Tropics
Copyright Information: © 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), David Cassells (personal donation)
Projects and Grants: WTMA WTMA/2017/945
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2019 07:38
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 75%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology @ 25%
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