Diversity and trait patterns of moths at the edge of an Amazonian rainforest

  • Luisa Maria Jaimes NinoEmail author
  • Rolf Mörtter
  • Gunnar Brehm


From the forest edge to the forest interior, a small-scale gradient in the microclimate exists. Little is known about its influence on the abundance, diversity and morphological traits of insects in Amazonian forests, a major component of global terrestrial diversity. Our study investigates these traits in Arctiinae and Geometridae moths at the interior and the edge of a Peruvian lowland rainforest (Panguana field station, Puerto Inca Province). A total of 1286 Arctiinae and 2012 Geometridae specimens were collected, sorted according to DNA barcodes and identified using relevant type material. Moths’ assemblages at the forest edge differed significantly in their composition. At the forest edge, small-sized taxa (Lithosiini, Sterrhinae, Geometrinae) were less abundant whereas larger-sized Arctiini were more abundant. Moths were significantly larger at the forest edge than inside the forest, and these differences hold at subfamily and tribal level, possibly reflecting moth mobility, and abiotic conditions of habitats: larger moths might better tolerate desiccating conditions than smaller moths. A larger proportion of females was found at the forest edge, probably due to differences in the dispersal activity among sexes and/or in the tolerance to desiccation due to size. Our results revealed the edge effect on two rich herbivorous taxa in the Amazon basin. We provide a fully illustrated catalogue of all species as a baseline for further study and conservation purposes.


Arctiinae Body size Geometridae Lepidoptera Species diversity 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and Rolf G. Beutel for continuous support. We cordially thank Juliane Diller and Erich Diller (Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, Germany) for permission to work in the Panguana Research Station and for providing logistic support, Dariusz Gwiazdowicz for assistance in the field and Michel Laguerre for advice in the determination of Arctiinae moths. The DNA barcoding was financially supported by the Ernst-Abbe-Stiftung (Jena) and the research at the station was made possible by SERFOR (Peru) through a collection (No. 007-2014-SERFOR-DGGSPFFS) and export permit (No. 003107-SERFOR).


The study was funded by the Ernst-Abbe-Stiftung (Jena).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Ethical approval

The authors declare that they have complied with ethical standards.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Phyletisches MuseumFriedrich-Schiller-UniversityJenaGermany
  2. 2.Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde KarlsruheKarlsruheGermany

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