Eur. J. Entomol. 106 (2): 231-239, 2009 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2009.031

On top of a Mediterranean Massif: Climate change and conservation of orophilous moths at the southern boundary of their range (Lepidoptera: Macroheterocera)

Stefano SCALERCIO
CRA Centro di Ricerca per l'Olivicoltura e l'Industria Olearia, Contrada Li Rocchi-Vermicelli, I-87036 Rende, Italy;

During the last few decades the tree line has shifted upward on Mediterranean mountains. This has resulted in a decrease in the area of the sub-alpine prairie habitat and an increase in the threat to strictly orophilous moths that occur there. This also occurred on the Pollino Massif due to the increase in temperature and decrease in rainfall in Southern Italy. We found that a number of moths present in the alpine prairie at 2000 m appear to be absent from similar habitats at 1500-1700 m. Some of these species are thought to be at the lower latitude margin of their range. Among them, Pareulype berberata and Entephria flavicinctata are estimated to be the most threatened because their populations are isolated and seem to be small in size. The tops of these mountains are inhabited by specialized moth communities, which are strikingly different from those at lower altitudes on the same massif further south. The majority of the species recorded in the sub-alpine prairies studied occur most frequently and abundantly in the core area of the Pollino Massif. Species and, as a consequence, communities found at high altitudes are highly vulnerable to climate warming, and need further monitoring.

Keywords: Biogeographic relict, extinction risk, global warming, species richness, sub-alpine prairies

Received: October 16, 2008; Accepted: December 17, 2008; Published: May 20, 2009

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