Diversity and distribution of butterflies in Lake Opeta Wetland System, Kumi District
Apio, Brenda Mary
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Habitat degradation poses a great threat to biodiversity conservation. Understanding how different butterfly species respond to habitat degradation is a necessary step towards the development of effective measures to enhance their conservation. Abundance and diversity of butterflies is an indicator of good ecosystem health. In this study, the diversity and distribution of butterflies in Lake Opeta wetland system in Kumi district was investigated with the aim of improving our understanding the status of butterflies in these areas. The objectives of the study was to determine butterfly diversity and distribution within Lake Opeta wetland system and also determine the relationship between plant diversity and animal diversity. An inventory was conducted along 1km transect using both sweep nets and fruit-baited traps in both intact and farmed wetland systems. A total of 45 different butterfly species belonging to 25 genera and 5 families were recorded within the study area. The genera Nymphalidae was the most abundant with 17 species whereas Papilionidae was the least abundant with only one specie. The most common species were Acraea acerata, Acraea encedon, Colotis auxo and Colotis eucharis while Danaus chrysippus was the most abundant in Lake Opeta wetland system. Butterfly species diversity varied within the different land use cover types in the Lake Opeta wetland system. Alpha diversity (H’) and species richness (S) were higher in the intact wetland (H’= 2.58, S= 39) than in the farmed wetland (H’= 1.90, S= 20). This study revealed that, land use cover has an effect on butterfly abundance and diversity. Most intact or natural habitats for example forests, grasslands and wetlands normally have greater butterfly biodiversity than the disturbed sites, this therefore emphasizes that specific structural characteristics of vegetation are usually important for butterfly distribution. Butterflies are usually dependent on specific host plants for foliage, nectar and pollen. Therefore, butterfly diversity reflects overall plant diversity, in a given area since they normally depend on them for their survival and also in turn butterflies turn out to be useful bio indicators of the environment. In future, butterfly diversity and distribution should be on a larger scale so as to obtain more accurate.