Does butterfly diversity predict moth diversity? Testing a popular indicator taxon at local scales

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Does butterfly diversity predict moth diversity? Testing a popular indicator taxon at local scales

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Title: Does butterfly diversity predict moth diversity? Testing a popular indicator taxon at local scales
Author: Ricketts, T. H.; Daily, G. C.; Ehrlich, P. R.
Abstract: Indicator taxa are often proposed as efficient ways of identifying conservation priorities, but the correlation between putative indicators and other taxa has not been adequately tested. We examined whether a popular indicator taxon. the butterflies, could provide a useful surrogate measure of diversity in a closely related but relatively poorly known group, the moths, at a local scale relevant to many conservation decisions (10(0)-10(1) km(2)). We sampled butterflies and moths at 19 sites representing the three major terrestrial habitats in sub-alpine Colorado: meadows. aspen forests, and conifer forests. We found no correlation between moth and butterfly diversity across the 19 sites, using any of five different diversity measures. Correlations across only meadow sites (to test for correlation within a single, species-rich habitat) were also not significant. Butterflies were restricted largely to meadows, where their host plants occur and thermal environment is favorable. In contrast, all three habitats contained substantial moth diversity, and several moth species were restricted to each habitat. These findings suggest that (1) butterflies are unlikely to be useful indicators of moth diversity at a local scale; (2) phylogenetic relatedness is not a reliable criterion for selecting appropriate indicator taxa, and (3) a habitat-based approach would more effectively conserve moth diversity in this landscape and may be preferable in many situations where indicator taxa relationships are untested. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
URI: ./pubpdfs/Ricketts_2002_Biological_Conservation.pdf
http://hdl.handle.net/2051/17077
Date: 2002

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