The Effect of Altitude and Environmental Variables on Butterfly Activity in Puerto Rico

Bain, Robin F. (2010). The Effect of Altitude and Environmental Variables on Butterfly Activity in Puerto Rico. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f230

Abstract

The focus of this research project was at 735m and above 915m within the cloud forest on El Yunque Peak in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) in Puerto Rico. From 2001 to 2005, numbers of Calisto nubila encountered on El Yunque Peak decreased between 915m and 1000m, while numbers of C. nubila recorded along the Tradewinds trail between 735m and 765m increased. A climate anomaly was recorded on the peaks of the LEF by the climate data between May and September 2001. This was reflected in numbers of C. nubila encountered on El Yunque peak above 915m in the following field visit in 2002. Numbers of C. nubila on El Yunque Peak had not recovered by 2005.

Calculations using the general linear model on the Tradewinds trail 2003 data showed that all the climate variables had a close relationship with C. nubila numbers encountered between 735m and 765m. Because all the climate variables had a close relationship with each other as well as with C. nubila numbers, no single climate variable on its own had a close relationship with numbers encountered. The timing of the transect walks also had a close relationship with C. nubila numbers encountered on the Tradewinds trail. Annual precipitation in the preceding 365 days is shown to be a controlling mechanism on C. nubila population numbers on the Tradewinds trail by possibly acting on immature stages and foodplant condition at this site.

Numbers of C. nubila encountered on the 965m to 1000m El Yunque Peak transect had a close relationship with wind speed. Calisto nubila numbers also had a close relationship with the other climate variables combined.

The results show that C. nubila can be used as a biological indicator of climate change in forest ecosystems above 735m.

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