The role of Eucalyptus planted forests for fruit-feeding butterflies’ conservation in fragmented areas of the Brazilian Atlantic forest
Publication date: 15 January 2019
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 432
Author(s): Rodrigo Nogueira Vasconcelos, Elaine Cristina Barbosa Cambui, Eduardo Mariano-Neto, Pedro Luís Bernardo da Rocha, Márcio Zikán Cardoso
Large areas in tropical countries were converted into Eucalyptus plantations for pulp production. Although these plantations are structurally more similar to native ecosystems than traditional short-lived crops, they can be less suitable for more sensitive species. Thus, it is important to know how they can harbor native biodiversity and contribute for its conservation in highly fragmented landscapes. In this work, we compared fruit-feeding butterfly assemblages from Eucalyptus plantations, forest fragments immersed in Eucalyptus plantations and samples inside a continuous forest tract on an extremely rich and threatened area of Atlantic forest in Brazil. We found that plantations harbor a less diverse assemblage of fruit-feeding butterflies, with low richness and a few, very abundant species. Samples placed in plantations were more similar to each other in species composition than those taken from fragments or continuous forests, although the dissimilarities among forest fragments are similar to those found among continuous forest samples. The occurrence of some very abundant species, mostly grass-feeding (Satyrines), differentiate the plantations from forests plots. In common between plantations and forests there were a few other species, notably some associated with second growth (Biblidinae and Satyrinae) and others with strong flying capabilities (Charaxinae). The small fragments harbored a significant portion of the regional butterfly diversity, and this reinforces the importance of actions to preserve them and to increase landscape connectivity for butterfly conservation purposes. It is clear that Eucalyptus sp. plantations cannot substitute forests for a vast majority of fruit-feeding butterflies, but it is better than other land use practices, such as pastures and sugar cane plantations, in sustaining part of this fauna and acting as a potential corridor.
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