Persistence of a frugivorous butterfly species in Venezuelan forest fragments: the role of movement and habitat quality
- Cite this article as:
- Shahabuddin, G., Herzner, G.A., Aponte, C.R. et al. Biodiversity and Conservation (2000) 9: 1623. doi:10.1023/A:1026551811969
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We studied the factors affecting the persistence of a frugivorous butterfly species, Hamadryas februa, in a set of forested islands located in Lago Guri, a reservoir in eastern Venezuela. The roles of isolation, area and habitat quality (larval host plant density, light conditions and presence of fruiting trees) in determining island butterfly densities were investigated through observations and experiments. Butterfly densities increased significantly with increase in both island area and local larval host plant density, but were not related to distance from colonizing sources, light conditions or presence of fruiting trees. Butterfly populations on even distant islands were not augmented by the experimental introduction of adults. Butterfly residence times were higher on sites located on a large island than on small islands. However, there was no evidence that the positive correlation between adult density and host plant density was caused by increased reproduction. The results indicate that butterfly densities are not constrained by colonization capabilities but rather, by lack of appropriate host plants and high rates of emigration from islands. The study indicates the importance of considering patterns in movement and habitat heterogeneity when designing conservation strategies for insects in fragmented landscapes.