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Data from: Flying between raindrops: strong seasonal turnover of several Lepidoptera groups in lowland rainforests of Mount Cameroon

By Vincent Maicher, Szabolcs Sáfián, Mercy Murkwe, Łukasz Przybyłowicz, Štěpán Janeček, Eric B. Fokam, Tomasz Pyrcz and Robert Tropek


1. Although seasonality in the tropics is often less pronounced than in temperate areas, tropical ecosystems show seasonal dynamics as well. Nevertheless, individual tropical insects’ phenological patterns are still poorly understood, especially in the Afrotropics. To fill this gap, we investigated biodiversity patterns of Lepidoptera communities at three rainforest localities in the foothills of Mount Cameroon, West Africa, one of the wettest places in the world. 2. Our multi-taxa approach covered six lepidopteran groups (fruit-feeding butterflies and moths, the families Sphingidae, Saturniidae, and Eupterotidae, and the subfamily Arctiinae of Erebidae) with diverse life strategies. We sampled adults of the focal groups in three distinct seasons. Our sampling included standardised bait-trapping (80 traps exposed for ten days per locality and season) and attraction by light (six full nights per locality and season). 3. Altogether, our dataset comprised 20,576 specimens belonging to 559 (morpho)species of the focal groups. The biodiversity of Lepidoptera generally increased in the high-dry season, and either increased (fruit-feeding moths, Arctiinae, Saturniidae) or decreased (butterflies, Sphingidae) in the transition to the wet season in particular groups. Simultaneously, we revealed a strong species turnover of fruit-feeding Lepidoptera and Arctiinae among the seasons, indicating relatively high specialisation of these communities for particular seasons. 4. Such temporal specialisation can make the local communities of butterflies and moths especially sensitive to the expected seasonal perturbations caused by the global change. Because of the key role of Lepidoptera across trophic levels, such changes in their communities could strengthen this impact on entire tropical ecosystems

Topics: biodiversity patterns, multi-taxa approach, seasonality, phenology
Year: 2018
DOI identifier: 10.5061/dryad.sc1dr77
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