Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 761–774 | Cite as

Determinants of nocturnal Lepidopteran diversity and community structure in a conifer-dominated forest

  • Holly K. OberEmail author
  • John P. Hayes
Original Paper


Prediction of community response of fauna to anthropogenic or environmental disturbance requires knowledge of faunal distribution and abundance as well as an understanding of the mechanisms underlying community organization. We investigated linkages between Lepidoptera, one of the most influential insect taxa in forested ecosystems, and vegetation in riparian areas of conifer-dominated forests of western Oregon, USA. Using model selection techniques, we found that canopy cover explained variability in patterns of moth species dominance and diversity better than all other factors investigated, whereas elevation best explained patterns of moth species richness. Using canonical correspondence analysis, we determined that gradients in shrub species richness, elevation, and understory species richness accounted for the most variation in regional moth community structure. Results suggest that reductions of riparian forest canopy are likely to have the greatest impact on the variety and relative abundance of moths. Due to the relative rarity and patchy distribution of the majority of individual species, we predict that lower intensity vegetation manipulations distributed across larger spatial scales are likely to be less damaging to regional moth biodiversity than more intensive alterations at smaller scales. Finally, if global warming trends continue, upward elevational shifts in moth species distributions will make forested regions at higher elevation worthy of concerted protection.


Biodiversity Canopy Elevation Moth Species composition Species diversity Species richness Understory 



We thank A. Baker, J. Boland, N. Duncum, A. Fedoruk, T. Fox, A. Hendrickson, J. Jones, F. Nogash, and A. Sjollema for assistance with data collection and D. Ross for moth identification. We also thank anonymous reviewers for providing comments that improved the document. This research was supported by the Cooperative Forest Ecosystem Research (CFER) program with funding from the USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC), the US Forest Service, Simpson Timber Company, and Weyerhaeuser Company.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationNorth Florida Research and Education CenterQuincyUSA

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