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Data from: Trade-offs for butterfly alpha and beta diversity in human-modified landscapes and tropical rainforests


Sambhu, Hemchandranauth; Nankishore, Alliea; Turton, Stephen M.; Northfield, Tobin D. (2018), Data from: Trade-offs for butterfly alpha and beta diversity in human-modified landscapes and tropical rainforests, Dryad, Dataset,


The accelerating expansion of human populations and associated economic activity across the globe have made maintaining large, intact natural areas increasingly challenging. The difficulty of preserving large intact landscapes in the presence of growing human populations has led to a growing emphasis on landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation with a complementary strategy focused on improving conservation in human-modified landscapes. This, in turn, is leading to intense debate about the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in human-modified landscapes and approaches to better support biodiversity in those landscapes. Here, we compared butterfly abundance, alpha richness, and beta diversity in human-modified landscapes [urban, sugarcane] and natural, forested areas to assess the conservation value of human-modified landscapes within the Wet Tropics bioregion of Australia. We used fruit-baited traps to sample butterflies and analyzed abundance and species richness in respective land uses over a one-year period. We also evaluated turnover and spatial variance components of beta diversity to determine the extent of change in temporal and spatial variation in community composition. Forests supported the largest numbers of butterflies, but were lowest in each, alpha species richness, beta turnover, and the spatial beta diversity. Sugarcane supported higher species richness, demonstrating the potential for conservation at local scales in human-modified landscapes. In contrast, beta diversity was highest in urban areas, likely driven by spatial and temporal variation in plant composition within the urban landscapes. Thus, while improving conservation on human-modified landscapes may improve local alpha richness, conserving variation in natural vegetation is critical for maintaining high beta diversity.

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