Lepidoptera Papilionoidea communities as a sentinel of biodiversity threat: the case of wild boar rooting in a Mediterranean habitat
Butterfly communities can be modified by the activities of large mammals. The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is one of the most common mammals in Europe and has notably expanded its distribution range in recent decades. The present work aimed to investigate the possible effect of wild boar rooting activity on butterflies in olive groves inside the “Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni” National Park. Butterflies were surveyed in five Rooted (R) and five Control areas (C). Transects were made from April to September in 2011 and 2012. Forty-three species and 3659 individuals were found, of which 39 species and 2426 individuals were detected in C areas and 31 species and 1233 individuals in R areas. A community-level approach showed a significantly higher abundance, richness and Shannon–Wiener index in C than in R. An ecological-level approach indicated that more specialised butterflies were significantly more affected by wild boar activity. Finally, the response of single species was investigated: two species (Colias croceus and Polyommatus icarus) were significantly more represented in R, whereas six species (Aricia agestis,Hipparchiastatilinus, Lasiommata megera, Melanargia arge, Pyronia cecilia and Thymelicus acteon) were significantly more abundant in C. Three species considered at risk (M. arge; Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC; H. statilinus and T. acteon: European Red List) were less represented in rooted areas. Overall, the intensive wild boar activity negatively correlated with butterflies in the olive groves studied.