Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (3): 431-437, 2011 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2011.055

Butterflies (Lepidoptera) highlight the ecological value of shrubland and grassland mosaics in Cypriot garrigue ecosystems

Özge ÖZDEN1,2, David J. HODGSON2
1 Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Technologies, European University of Lefke, Mersin 10, North Cyprus; e-mail: ozgeozden77@yahoo.com
2 Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Tremough, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK; e-mail: d.j.hodgson@exeter.ac.uk

We used butterfly assemblages to evaluate the ecological value of habitat mosaics within garrigue ecosystems in Cyprus. To understand the importance of the local plant communities for Cypriot butterflies, five plots in each of two habitat types (grass-dominated or shrub-dominated) were surveyed weekly for a period of five months in order to assess the abundance, species richness and diversity of butterflies. A total of 810 butterflies of 16 species were recorded. Indices of butterfly diversity, calculated across the whole season, were similar between grassland and shrubland dominated mosaics. However, species richness of all butterflies was consistently higher in grassland dominated mosaics throughout the whole season. The peak abundance of all butterfly species occurred during mid-season (late April - early May), with similar numbers observed in both habitat types. However, a greater abundance was observed during early and late season in grassland patches. The abundance of endemic species (Maniola cypricola, Hipparchia cypriensis, Glaucopsyche paphos) peaked earlier in the season in shrubland patches, but was higher in grassland patches in late season. This difference in seasonal timing of endemic abundance was dominated by the seasonal dynamics of M. cypricola. These results suggest that, while garrigue is characterised by its shrub flora, management to maintain a mosaic of grassland and shrubland could act to maximise the abundance and richness of indicator species groups of conservation importance.

Keywords: Butterflies, Lepidoptera, garrigue, habitat, conservation, Cyprus

Received: August 6, 2010; Accepted: December 20, 2010; Published: July 1, 2011

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