butterflies of the "edge"

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Thu Sep 21 18:07:46 EDT 2000

Wow!  With all the other stuff being discussed, I almost missed this.  What
an absolutely marvelous and refreshing question.  I certainly have some data
- but I'd prefer to wait and listen to other more formalized responses.

I'm hoping to hear many.

Mark Walker
Oceanside, CA

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Grehan [mailto:jrg13 at psu.edu]
> Sent: Sunday, September 17, 2000 6:04 PM
> To: leps-l at lists.yale.edu
> Cc: smap at africaonline.co.ke
> Subject: butterflies of the "edge"
> The following is a modified email request from Smruti Damania for
> information regarding butterfly behaviour and ecology that I am not
> sufficiently familier with
> to provide answers. If anyone on the list would like to 
> provide information
> on these aspects and any pertinent literature I am sure she 
> would be most
> grateful. She is not a member of the list (although I will 
> suggest that she
> might
> like to join) so please send responses to her email address 
> (but also post on
> the list if you think the points might be of general 
> interest). John Grehan
> From: "Damania" <smap at africaonline.co.ke>
> I am a recent BSc. Zoology graduate from the University of 
> Eastern Africa, 
> Baraton. I am immensely interested in biological research and 
> am an ardent 
> butterfly enthusiast. While at the university, I had carried 
> out several 
> researches regarding the use of Lepidoptera as bio-indicators 
> of different
> biomes. 
> According to my research, the greatest diversity of 
> Lepidoptera were found 
> in a sampling station that is a grassland patch lying at the edge of a
> cultivated 
> farmland. In my research, this 'edge' accounted for the 
> highest distribution 
> class of Lepidoptera. Also, another interesting fact was that while
> sampling in the indigenous woodland biome of my study area, I found
> aggregates of Milkweed butterflies(Amauris albimaculatus) to prefer a
> certain area within the biome 
> where trees had recently been felled; and a path lay alongside. 
> I am curious as to why the preference for living on the 
> 'edge' should be so. 
> What exactly is it about the 'edge' that attracts butterflies 
> to it? From my 
> observations, I found that the boundary zone between 
> different biomes was 
> much more preferred than within the biome itself. Why opt for 
> the 'boundary
> line' 
> or the 'edge' ,as you call it, in preference to an 
> established, stable biome? 
> I still cannot understand this, perhaps due to my limited 
> knowledge on these
> amazing creatures. 
> In my research, A. albimaculatus, Papilio demodocus, Papilio 
> dardanus, 
> Papilio nireus and Vanessa cardui all show a preference to 
> the 'edge'. 
> What butterflies in America show a similar preference for the edge? 
> Butterflies are still a relatively new field of study in my 
> country, where 
> conservation efforts tend to lean toward more economically profitable 
> species.
> Thankyou, 
> Smruti. (Miss Smruti Damania, P.O. Box 975, Nakuru, Kenya)

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