An Insight Into the Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) Associated With Protected Area Network of Uttarakhand, Western Himalaya

An Insight Into the Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) Associated With Protected Area Network of Uttarakhand, Western Himalaya

Manoj Kumar Arya (Biodiversity Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Kumaun University, DSB Campus, Nainital, India) and Aman Verma (Biodiversity Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Kumaun University, DSB Campus, Nainital, India)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1226-5.ch010
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Uttarakhand has a rich tradition to conserve its immense array of biological and cultural diversity. An annotated checklist on butterfly diversity and distribution across protected areas of state Uttarakhand is provided here which is a culmination of published literature over a period of the last 38 years (1981-2018). The list comprises 393 butterfly species under 188 genera and six families. The local status was also assigned to the compiled species of butterflies after critical review of referred literature, wherein 22.70% of the total species were found ‘rare' while 41 species of butterflies are entirely lacking published record from the last many decades. A total of 51 species compiled in the present checklist, which was reported based on its presence or absence unique and rare to a particular protected area, are the species of concern as they might face extinction through slight alterations in their habitats.
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Butterflies that belong to the super family Papilionoidea of the order Lepidoptera form vital component of terrestrial ecosystems because of their intimate associations with thehabitat. Species of butterflies exhibit extreme sensitivity towards fractional variation in climatic factors and also to disturbances in its habitats, thus rendered as indicative of general environmental attributes such as conservation value (Brown et al., 2000), disturbances (Kocher & Williams, 2000), environmental health and quality (Kunte, 2000), climate change (Hill et al., 2002) and as surrogate taxa for assessing conservation threats to other biodiversity groups (Hayes et al., 2009). Butterflies play critical roles at the nexus between environmental science and environmental action (Fleishman & Murphy, 2009) and are often used as flagship species in conservation campaigns (New, 2011).

The state of Uttarakhand nestled in the central sector of Indian Himalayan Region is bestowed with marvellous assemblage of biodiversity and is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna. From the butterfly diversity and distribution point of view, the state forms a potential zoo-geographical zone which supports more than 500 species of butterflies (Sondhi and Kunte, 2018) constituting 33.32% of the total species of butterflies known from Indian subcontinent (Kehimkar, 2014). Most pioneering assessments which dealt with the butterfly taxonomy from the state Uttarakhand, include Doherty (1886), Mackinnon and de Niceville (1899), Hannyngton (1910-11), Ollenbach (1930; 1931), Lesse (1952), Stempffer (1952), Wynter Blyth (1957), Shull (1958; 1962) etc. With the establishment of the Zoological Society of India at Kolkata, regular surveys have been carried outthrough sections on butterflies of Northern Regional Station, Dehradun at different biogeographic regions including few protected areas of Uttarakhand (Arora, 1994; 1995; 1997; Kumar et al., 2004; Kumar, 2008; Majumdar, 2010; Maulik, 2010; Sharma and Sidhu, 2010; Sidhu and Sharma, 2010).Some workers have also contributed much to our knowledge on butterflies from last few decades (Singh, 1999; 2003; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2009; 2016; Singh & Bhandari, 2003; Singh & Sondhi, 2016; Smetacek, 1992; 1993; 1995; 2002; 2004; 2010; 2011; 2012). Still, gaps exist related to many species which have not been studied adequately from the standpoints of their taxonomy and ecology and on the other hand, there are various species of butterflies with known distributions but needs recent evidence verification from the state Uttarakhand (Sondhi and Kunte, 2018). As species records often vary on spatio-temporal scale, creating checklists and updating them become crucial to understand species distribution dynamics and possible threats to them (Sawchik et al., 2005; Majumder et al., 2012; Tiple & Koparde, 2015). Moreover, despite the use of protected areas for nature conservation and maintaining ecosystem services (Vina & Liu, 2017), evidences are there for floral and faunal extinction even in protected areas either due to non-targeted conservation interventionsor increased anthropogenic pressures (Brashares, 2003; Dudley & MacKinnon, 2017). In this scenario, an attempt has been madethrough considering published literature and authentic accessible data to provide a comprehensive preliminary checklist on distribution and status of butterfly fauna highlighting unique and threatened species across different protected areas of the state Uttarakhand. It is intended that the present checklist will serve as a reliable biodiversity data forbiological recordings and conservation reviews on butterfly fauna as well as can be used for monitoring faunistic changes that are likely to occur as we move futher deeper towards Anthropocene in the 21st century.

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