, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 187-199

Biodiversity and community structure of temperate butterfly species within a gradient of human disturbance: An analysis based on the concept of generalist vs. Specialist strategies

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Abstract

We monitored nine butterfly communities with varying degrees of human disturbance by conducting a census twice a month during 1980 by the line transect method in and around Tsukuba City, central Japan. We analyzed the biodiversity and community structures using the generalist/specialist concept. The site (community) order based on decreasing human disturbance was positively correlated with butterfly species diversity (H′), species richness (the total number of species), and the number of specialist species in a community, but not with the number of generalist species. The number of generalist species was rather constant, irrespective of the degree of human disturbance. Thus, both the butterfly species diversity and species richness were more dependent on the specialists than the generalists. Our analyses also showed that the generalist species were distributed widely over the communities, and they maintained high population densities, resulting in high rank status in abundance in a community, with more spatial variation in density per species. Specialist species showed the opposite trends. These results demonstrate that the generalist/specialist concept is a powerful tool applicable to analyse the biodiversity and structure of natural communities.