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Butterfly species diversity and their floral preferences in the Rupa wetland of Nepal
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  • Bandana Subedi,
  • Alyssa Stewart,
  • Bijaya Neupane,
  • Sudha Ghimire,
  • Hari Adhikari
Bandana Subedi
Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University
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Alyssa Stewart
Mahidol University Faculty of Science
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Bijaya Neupane
Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University
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Sudha Ghimire
Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University
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Hari Adhikari
Helsingin yliopisto
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Abstract

The diversity of butterflies is known to some extent in Nepal, but the study of their interactions with nectar plant sources and floral attributes is limited. This study was conducted along the periphery of Rupa Wetland, a Ramsar site, from February to November 2019 to assess butterfly species diversity and to identify the factors influencing their foraging choices at nectar plants. We assessed the number of butterfly species, their abundance, and their floral foraging behavior, from 28 linear transects (500 m long each) placed in a stratified and random manner throughout the study area. Five factors, i.e., category of plant, flower colour, corolla shape, corolla depth, and the proboscis length of butterfly species were taken into account to assess the nectar plant choices of butterfly families. Moreover, species diversity at the family level, and overall, were determined through several indices. When examining overall butterfly diversity and abundance, we recorded a total of 1,535 butterflies belonging to 138 species within six families. For our examination of butterfly-nectar plant observations, we recorded a total of 298 individuals belonging to 31 species of butterfly visiting a total of 28 nectar plant species. Among the recorded butterflies, Zemeros flegyas was found to be the most abundant (92 individuals), while only a single individual each of the species Troides helena, Gandaca herina and Belonois aurota were recorded. Of the 28 nectar host plant species, Biden pilosa was the most popular and was visited by 13 species of butterflies. Overall, total butterfly visitation was found to be significantly influenced by plant category (herbaceous preferred over woody), floral colour (yellow, white, and purple preferred over pink), and corolla shape (tubular preferred over non-tubular). Moreover, there was a significant positive correlation (r = 0.466) between the proboscis length of butterflies and the corolla tube length of flowers (p<0.001).

Peer review status:IN REVISION

16 Aug 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
18 Aug 2020Assigned to Editor
18 Aug 2020Submission Checks Completed
27 Aug 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
10 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor