Preservation of biodiversity in small rainforest patches: rapid evaluations using butterfly trapping
- Cite this article as:
- Daily, G.C. & Ehrlich, P.R. Biodivers Conserv (1995) 4: 35. doi:10.1007/BF00115313
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Determining the capacity of small forest remnants to support biodiversity is of critical importance, especially in the tropics where high rates of land conversion coincide with extraordinarily high species richness and endemism. Using fruit-baited traps, we conducted rapid evaluations in 1993 and 1994 of the forest butterfly diversity of seven small patches (3–30 ha) and a single remaining large patch (227 ha) of Costa Rican mid-elevation moist forest. Our results suggest that even recently isolated 20–30 ha fragments of primary forest retain surprisingly depauperate butterfly faunas relative to that supported by the 227 ha patch only 0.5–1.0 km away. If forest butterflies are an index of the diversity of small-bodied organisms in general, preservation of the latter may require unexpectedly large patches. In 1994 we also surveyed a 16 ha botanical garden, situated between and contiguous to both the 227 ha patch and an exceptionally species-rich 25 ha patch. In the garden, we discovered adults of many butterfly species associated with forest interior, suggesting that even heavily managed systems of largely exotic plants (such as agricultural systems) could be designed to serve as corridors for butterflies and perhaps some other groups of organisms. We discuss some implications for a planned restoration of biotic connections between lowland and montane forests in southern Costa Rica.