A duo of zoologists from Mumbai has traced butterfly species variations as per seasonal changes in Chandrapur’s Tadoba National Park.
Scientist duo Manisha Kulkarni and Aparna Ghadi of the Mumbai-based Institute of Science identified about 45 species of butterflies belonging to five families during their study conducted between November 2016 and January 2018.
Located in the north of Deccan plateau, the 120-acre Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a tropical dry deciduous forest receiving annual rainfall of about 1700 mm. The summers here can be extremely harsh with the day temperatures rising up to 48 degrees Celsius, whereas the minimum temperatures during the winter months fall to 10 degrees Celsius.
This wide band of temperatures allow the flourishing of both flora and fauna. The presence of Jamun trees and a reservoir are among the most favoured for natural nesting for butterflies and birds.
Like honeybees, butterflies play an important role in sustenance of ecosystems and are ecological sensors, alongside being bipollinators.
It was during October, the post-monsoon month, with abundant food available for both the larvae and adults that the richest butterfly biodiversity was recorded here, the study highlighted.
“A highly seasonal pattern of abundance and richness within the local nectar feeding butterfly community was observed. A significant decline was noted during dry seasons, when the flower availability was low and during intense defoliation periods. Seasonality showed remarkable effects on the butterfly populations,” stated a new study published in the International Journal of Entomology Research.
The butterflies were found to abandon hotter and drier areas, and instead go in search of cooler locations. Insufficiency of food ended the annual cycle of most butterfly species but they chose humid areas to enter the reproductive diapauses, according to the study.
Researchers recorded 20 butterfly species belonging to the Nymphalidae family — the most abundant — followed by Lycaenidae (12 species) , Pieridae (10 species), Papilionidae (6 species) and one species belonging to Hesperiidae family.