Mountain ecosystems are particularly sensitive to changes in climate and land cover, but at the same time, they can offer important refuges for species on the opposite of the more altered lowlands. To explore the potential role of mountain ecosystems in butterfly conservation and to assess the vulnerability of the alpine species, we analyzed the short-term changes (2006–2008 vs. 2012–2013) of butterflies’ distribution along altitudinal gradients in the NW Italian Alps. We sampled butterfly communities once a month (62 sampling stations, 3 seasonal replicates per year, from June to August) by semi-quantitative sampling techniques. The monitored gradient ranges from the montane to the alpine belt (600–2700 m a.s.l.) within three protected areas: Gran Paradiso National Park (LTER, Sitecode: LTER_EU_IT_109), Orsiera Rocciavrè Natural Park and Veglia Devero Natural Park. We investigated butterflies’ temporal changes in accordance with a hierarchical approach to assess potential relationships between species and community level. As a first step, we characterized each species in terms of habitat requirements, elevational range and temperature preferences and we compared plot occupancy and altitudinal range changes between time periods (2006–2008 vs. 2012–2013). Secondly, we focused on community level, analyzing species richness and community composition temporal changes. The species level analysis highlighted a general increase in mean occupancy level and significant changes at both altitudinal boundaries. Looking at the ecological groups, we observed an increase of generalist and highly mobile species at the expense of the specialist and less mobile ones. For the community level, we noticed a significant increase in species richness, in the community temperature index and a tendency towards homogenization within communities. Besides the short time period considered, butterflies species distribution and communities changed considerably. In light of these results, it is fundamental to continue monitoring activities to understand if we are facing transient changes or first signals of an imminent trend.

Butterfly distribution along altitudinal gradients: temporal changes over a short time period

Cerrato, Cristiana;BRUNETTI, MASSIMO;Bonelli, Simona;
2019

Abstract

Mountain ecosystems are particularly sensitive to changes in climate and land cover, but at the same time, they can offer important refuges for species on the opposite of the more altered lowlands. To explore the potential role of mountain ecosystems in butterfly conservation and to assess the vulnerability of the alpine species, we analyzed the short-term changes (2006–2008 vs. 2012–2013) of butterflies’ distribution along altitudinal gradients in the NW Italian Alps. We sampled butterfly communities once a month (62 sampling stations, 3 seasonal replicates per year, from June to August) by semi-quantitative sampling techniques. The monitored gradient ranges from the montane to the alpine belt (600–2700 m a.s.l.) within three protected areas: Gran Paradiso National Park (LTER, Sitecode: LTER_EU_IT_109), Orsiera Rocciavrè Natural Park and Veglia Devero Natural Park. We investigated butterflies’ temporal changes in accordance with a hierarchical approach to assess potential relationships between species and community level. As a first step, we characterized each species in terms of habitat requirements, elevational range and temperature preferences and we compared plot occupancy and altitudinal range changes between time periods (2006–2008 vs. 2012–2013). Secondly, we focused on community level, analyzing species richness and community composition temporal changes. The species level analysis highlighted a general increase in mean occupancy level and significant changes at both altitudinal boundaries. Looking at the ecological groups, we observed an increase of generalist and highly mobile species at the expense of the specialist and less mobile ones. For the community level, we noticed a significant increase in species richness, in the community temperature index and a tendency towards homogenization within communities. Besides the short time period considered, butterflies species distribution and communities changed considerably. In light of these results, it is fundamental to continue monitoring activities to understand if we are facing transient changes or first signals of an imminent trend.
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https://natureconservation.pensoft.net/article/30728/
Butterfly; community composition; mountain ecosystem; LTER; protected area
Cerrato, Cristiana; Rocchia, Emanuel; Brunetti, Massimo; Bionda, Radames; Bassano, Bruno; Provenzale, Antonello; Bonelli, Simona; Viterbi, Ramona
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1703155
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