Eur. J. Entomol. 109 (2): 207-216, 2012 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2012.027

Correlations between landscape attributes and ecological traits of Lepidoptera communities in olive groves

Stefano SCALERCIO1, Pietro BRANDMAYR3, Nino IANNOTTA1, Ruggero PETACCHI2, Luigi BOCCACCIO2
1 CRA Centro di Ricerca per l'Olivicoltura e l'Industria Olearia, Contrada Li Rocchi, Rende, Cosenza, Italy; e-mail: stefano.scalercio@entecra.it
2 Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Piazza Martiri della LibertL 33, Pisa, Italy
3 UniversitL della Calabria, Via Pietro Bucci, Rende, Cosenza, Italy

The effects of landscape attributes on Lepidoptera communities were studied in an agricultural area in Calabria (S-Italy). The association between a set of community descriptors and landscape metrics was determined using a multi-scale approach. Lepidoptera were sampled using yellow sticky traps in 10 olive groves. The landscape in 5 concentric areas, with radii from 250 to 1250 m, around each sampling site was analyzed. The composition and configuration of the landscape were calculated both at the landscape and class level based on the main classes of land use. The following life-history traits of Lepidoptera were considered: (i) dispersal ability of adults, (ii) habitat preferences and (iii) diet breadth of larvae. An index of community vulnerability was calculated by combining life-history traits and species diversity. There were no significant correlations between any of the landscape metrics and species richness or between species richness and abundance of natural or semi-natural habitats. However, life-history traits were significantly correlated with some landscape metrics, depending on the spatial scale. Most notably, landscape diversity is positively correlated with community vulnerability. The presence of sensitive species in olive orchards, but not species richness per se, is associated with the presence of natural and semi-natural habitats in the surrounding agricultural landscape. In conclusion, responses of communities to landscape changes are more likely to be revealed by an analysis of ecological traits, than species richness. In particular, the vulnerability index, used in this joint analysis of the main ecological traits, seems to be an effective descriptor of the relationships between communities and landscape.

Keywords: Landscape ecology, Lepidoptera, biodiversity, ecological traits, conservation

Received: August 26, 2011; Accepted: December 12, 2011; Published: April 5, 2012

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