Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 245-256

First online:

Comparison of butterfly communities and abundances between marginal grasslands and conservation lands in the eastern Great Plains

  • Yasmine A. FarhatAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Nebraska
  • , William M. JanousekAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Nebraska
  • , John P. McCartyAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Nebraska
  • , Nichollette RiderAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Nebraska
  • , L. LaReesa WolfenbargerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Nebraska Email author 

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The alteration and fragmentation of native tallgrass prairie in the Midwestern United States has created a need to identify other land types with the ability to support grassland butterfly species. This study examines butterfly usage of marginal grasslands, which consist of semi-natural grasslands existing within in a larger agricultural matrix, compared to grasslands managed for conservation of prairie species. Using generalized linear mixed models we analyzed how land purpose (marginal vs. conservation grasslands) affected butterfly abundance. We found grassland butterfly species to be significantly more common on conservation grasslands, whereas generalist species were significantly more common on marginal grasslands. Results of ordination analyses indicated that while many species used both types of habitats, butterfly species assemblages were distinct between habitat types and that edge to interior ratio and the floristic quality index of sites were important habitat characteristics driving this distinction. Within conservation grasslands we examined the relationship between butterfly abundance and the planting diversity used in restoring each site. We found higher diversity restorations hosted more individuals of butterflies considered habitat generalists, as well as species considered to be of conservation concern.


Butterfly Lepidoptera Agroecosystem Grassland Conservation Floristic quality index