Neotropical Butterfly Ecology and Conservation in Southern Peru


Material Information

Neotropical Butterfly Ecology and Conservation in Southern Peru
Physical Description:
Grant proposal
Gallice, Geoffrey
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:


General Note:
Submitted as part of application for U.S. Student Fulbright Program 2012-2013

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


STATEMENT OF GRANT PURPOSE Geoffrey R. Gallice, Peru, Ecology Neotropical Butterfly Ecology and Conservation in Southern Peru Introduction and Objectives One of the best documented patterns in ecology is a positive relationship between species abundance and distribution that is, species that are more locally common tend also to be more geogr aphically widespread (Blackburn et al ., 2006, J. Anim. Ecol. 75: 1426 1439) However, most work to date has focused on vertebrates of temperate areas, whereas (i) mo st animal species tropical regions. Sadly, this high tropical species richness is matched by accelerated rates of habitat loss due to deforestation, and if the above implications for conservation will be significant. For example, due to their location at the juxtaposition of montane Andean and lowland Amazon forest habitats, the five tropical Andean countries alone ma 7,000 butterfly species The are a is also experiencing unprecede nted rates of forest loss and preliminary analyses (Huertas & Willmott, unpub. data) suggest that as many as 700 butterfly species in the region may be threatened due to restricted range size (< 20,000 km 2 ). Furthermore, i f range size and abundance are linked, we might expect that reductions in range size due to habitat loss may lead to increased rarity, with extinction following if species are pus h ed beyond a critical threshold ( Gaston 1994 Biodivers. Lett. 2: 163 170) Unfortunately, the data required for a more detailed analysis are virtually nonexistent for most tropical species, and a better knowledge of species abundance and distribution, as we ll as how these factors interact to influence species rarity and extinction, will be key in determining species threat status and in planning reserves that protect the largest number of species using limited resources. Ironically, many tropical countries m ost affected by habitat loss are also among those least able to evaluate and deal with its potential effects on biodiversity. More work is urgently needed to examine the generality of the relationship between abundance and distribution and the processes in volved, in particular for tropical insects, and to ensure a lasting capacity to adapt to changing threats to biodiversity. In the proposed project, I will work with Peruvian researchers and students to tackle several fundamental ecological questions for t he first time in a diverse, Neotropical insect group. My goals are: (i) to gather abundance and distributional data for butterfly species in the southern Peruvian Andes and Amazon regions that I will use to document species threat status and to identify ar eas of conservation priority, (ii) to evaluate the relationship between abundance and distribution for Peruvian butterflies, and (iii) to evaluate potential underlyin g causes of such a relationship and identify traits that make species prone to rarity and extinction. Methods Field sites and study group All field work will be conducted at two sites in sout hern Peru during Aug. 2012 Jun 2013: Los Amigos Biological Station (LABS) and the Centro de Investigaci n de Mariposas de Machupicchu (CIMM) Sites were chosen to allow comparisons between lowland (LABS 280m elev. ) and montane ( CIMM 2,700m elev. ) faunas. Importantly, one full year of sampling will captur e the total extent of seasonal variation in abundance common in tropical butterfly faunas (e.g. C heca et al., 2009, Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 45: 470 48 6 ) Tar get groups will include Biblidinae, Charaxinae, the genus Adelpha and the clearwing butterfly tribe Ithomiini due to their diversity and relative ease of sampling and species level identification


STATEMENT OF GRANT PURPOSE Geoffrey R. Gallice, Peru, Ecology Data collection and analysis Ecological niche modeling will be used to predict and calculate butterfly range sizes using a total of 21,610 unique, georeferenced locality records already available for 303 species in the target groups potentially occurring at the study sites. Species abundance will be measured in the field in two ways: (i) mean number of individual s collected while patrolling transects (Ithomiini), and (ii) mean number of individuals collected in baited traps placed along transects (Biblidinae, Charaxinae, Adelpha ). To investigate potential underlying causes of patterns in species abundance and dist ribution, a variety of ecological data will be collected for butterflies in the field, including several measures of vegetation structure from 30m plots centered at the site of each baited trap. Similar data will be collected from 10m tered at the site of each hand net capture for hand netted Ithomiini These deviation of axes representing recorded ecological variable s A second potential expla natory variable related to niche breadth, breadth of local host plant use, will also be evaluated. Ithomiine butterflies, in particular, are remarkable in that they feed almost exclusively as larvae on plants of the family Solanaceae, thus permitting relat ively accurate es timate s of host plant breadth. H ost plant use will be measured by inspecting potential solanaceous host plants along transects and rearing ithomiine eggs and larvae to adulthood for identification in the field laboratory. The relationship between abundance, distribution, and explanatory variables (niche breadth, breadth of host plant use) will be analyzed using multiple regression across all species. All s pecimens will be deposited in collections in Peru and the USA, and findings will be di sseminated via publications in peer reviewed scientific journals. Collaborators I have contacted Gorky Valencia, curator of the Lepidoptera collection at the Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco, who has already helpe d to arrange accommodations at CIMM for the duration of my stay in Peru In exchange, I will provide staff there with training in butterfly ecology, identification, and rearing. Since th e c ollection of ecological data will requir e teamwork, Mr. Valencia will also help to recruit a team of students from his institution, with whom I will work closely in the field. Those students will receive practice i n the relevant field techniques as well as the opportunity to collect data for th eir theses and collaborate in scientific publications. I have also arranged for accommodations at LABS, and plan to enlist the help of local assistants to collect ecological data there. In addition, Gerardo Lamas of the Museo de Historia Natural at the Uni versidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, a world expert on Neotropical butterflies, wil l provide scientific support, particularly in butterfly identification and in the acquisition of research permits. Conclusions Ecology and conservation of tropi cal insects are currently in their infancy, and my project in insect fauna. In addition specimens collected in the field will enhance important collections in Peru and the USA, which are fundamental to the study of butterflies and biodiversity in general. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the various collaborations with Peruvian researchers and students that I propose will ensure the feasibility of my proj ect by allowing me to collect the data that I need to answer my various questions, while simultaneously promoting interest and knowledge in the burgeoning fields of Neotropical butterfly e cology and conservation in Peru.


PERSONAL STATEMENT Geoffrey R. Gallice, Peru, Ecology As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, I was thrilled at the opportunity to pursue my lifelong fascination with the natural world, and I quickly chose biology as my major. I was also excited by the seemingly endless non academic options and, in the summer of 2004, I decided to indulge an almost irresistible urge to travel and experience the world from a different cultural and natural perspective My decision led me to Costa Rica, where I volunteered at a small family farm near the southern city of San Isidro. There, I helped to build terraces and plant soil binding grasses to help mitigate soil loss on the steep, wet tropical slopes. During that trip, I was also fortunate to make my first visit to a tropical rainforest. Simply stepping into the for est was a profound even almost spiritual experience As I walked through it, e verything that I discovered, from the humble yet ubiquitous insects to the towering kapok trees, capti vated me. One unexpected discovery that I made, however, was how only remote, relatively small vestiges of once vast forests remained. Even in Costa Rica, a world leader in conservation, one had to go through a lot of trouble to find undisturbed forest I left the country with a newfound perspective on this place that I had instantly fallen in love with. Rainforests were wondrous, but threatened, and I was determined to contribute to their protection. I became convinced that the best way I could meet this c hallenge was through further education, and a deeper understanding of their ecology. That determination has recently carried me to completion of my at the University of Florida (UF) where I investigated Neo tropical butterfly ecology and conservation. This summer, w hile at the 2011 annual meeting to present some of my findings I attend ed a special session entitled, Stewardship in Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities Our discussion confirmed that those challenges are not only many, but that they are also great. As tropical forests throughout Latin America disappear, so do the habitats upon which the majority of Yet, the region is currently ill prep ared for this so called because the majority of global financial and academic resources are located in wealthier, non tropical countries. A successful long term conservation strategy, therefore, will have to combine resources present ly available to address ecological problems, but also foster partnership and promote the local capacity to tackle difficult and constantly changing issues through cutting edge science. Now, using this philosophy as a gui de, I am continuing my studies as a Ph.D. candidate at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at UF. The Fulbright Peru program would offer a significant advantage, by providing me with the resources that I will need to evaluate the ecology and conservation status of a diverse, charismatic group of Neotropical insects for the first time. Perhaps most importantly, Fulbright offers a unique, almost unprecedented opportunity to work closely for one year with my Peruvian colleagues. During this time, I will create strong and lasting professional bonds, and in so doing, set the stage for a successful career promoting the ecology and conservation of the rainforests that I care so deeply about.