Data from: Species-habitat relationships and ecological correlates of butterfly abundance in a transformed tropical landscape
Jain, Anuj; Lim, Felix K. S.; Webb, Edward L. (2020), Data from: Species-habitat relationships and ecological correlates of butterfly abundance in a transformed tropical landscape, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.177q4
Tropical butterfly conservation strategies often focus on total and/or common species richness to assess the conservation value of a patch or habitat. However, such a strategy overlooks the unique dynamics of rare species. We evaluated the species-habitat relationships of 209 common, intermediate, and rare butterfly species (including morphospecies) across four habitat types (mature, degraded, or fragmented forest, and urban parks) and two patch sizes (<400 ha, ≥400 ha) in Singapore. Common species richness was consistent across habitat types. Intermediate species richness declined by more than 50 percent in urban parks (relative to all forest habitats), and rare species richness was reduced by 50 percent in degraded and fragmented forest and by 90 percent in urban parks (relative to mature forest). Large patches had comparable overall richness to small patches, but they supported more rare species and three times as many habitat-restricted species over a similar area. Importantly, a number of rare species were confined to single small patches. Mixed-effects regression models were constructed to identify habitat and ecological/life history variables associated with butterfly abundance. These models revealed that species with greater habitat specialization, rare larval host plants, few larval host plant genera, and narrow global geographic ranges were more likely to be rare species. Overall, these results demonstrate that the richness of habitat-restricted and rare species do not follow the same spatial distribution patterns as common species. Therefore, while conserving mature forests is key, effective butterfly conservation in a transformed landscape should take into account rare and habitat-restricted species.