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Power line corridors in conifer plantations as important habitats for butterflies

Abstract

There is growing concern over the loss of grassland and forest species worldwide due to land use changes. In Japan, young forest plantations provide important habitats for grassland species. However, the decline in forest logging frequency has led to a decrease in the area of young plantations, which may in turn cause a decline in the number of grassland species. Power line corridors in forest plantations can act as habitats for early and late successional species, as they contain vegetation in diverse stages. This study evaluated the importance of these corridor zones as habitats for early and late successional butterflies in Japan. The species richness and abundance of butterflies were recorded in power line corridors, young plantations, forest roads, and mature plantations. Vegetation height and food resource availability for larvae and adult butterflies were also measured. The species richness and abundance of those of late successional butterflies were highest in power line corridors and young plantations, and lowest in mature plantations; and early successional butterflies and food resource availability were highest in power line corridors, and lowest in mature plantations. The species richness and abundance of butterflies within power line corridors were largely explained by vegetation height and food resource availability. Our results indicate that power line corridors within conifer plantations provide important habitats for early and late successional butterflies.

Implications for insect conservation

Increasing the habitat value of power line corridors through appropriate vegetation management can have an important role in preserving insect species.

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Data availability

The data and material that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Shizuoka District Forest Office for permission to enter the National Forest. This study was partly funded by the Institute of Global Innovation Research, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

Funding

This study was partly funded by the Institute of Global Innovation Research, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

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KO, MS, TA, and SK conceived the ideas and designed the study; KO conducted data collection and analysis; KO led the writing of the manuscript; All authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.

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Correspondence to Kazuhito Oki.

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Oki, K., Soga, M., Amano, T. et al. Power line corridors in conifer plantations as important habitats for butterflies. J Insect Conserv 25, 829–840 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-021-00343-6

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Keywords

  • Alternative habitat
  • Conifer plantation landscape
  • Early successional species
  • Grassland-dependent species
  • Vegetation management