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Skipper impoverishment on large West Mediterranean islands (Lepidoptera Hesperioidea): deterministic, historical and stochastic factors

By Leonardo Dapporto and Roger L.H. Dennis


Biogeographical analyses are applied to skipper (Hesperioidea) presence/absence data from the Western Mediterranean mainland and the three largest islands (Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily) in order to identify potential conservation issues. The analyses performed on species, both collectively and individually, indicate that regional species richness and occurrence in the Mediterranean zone are largely predicted by latitude and area but that islands have impoverished faunas. Several species, predicted to be present on these islands from logistic regression of their continental distributions, are actually absent. The number of species predicted to be present from logistic regression analyses for each island, closely matched the number of species predicted to occur in regional-focused multiple regression analysis. This suggests that missing species have been identified. When compared with species that occur in Sicily and Corsica, the missing species are shown to differ for ecological traits, mainly those linked to altitudinal tolerance. No ecological distinctions were disclosed for Sardinian skippers suggesting a mainly stochastic colonisation. These results, and those from an analogous study carried out on Papilionoidea, point to Hesperioidea having (i) overall more impoverished faunas on islands and (ii) being subject to stochastic or historical colonisation events more than Papilionoidea. Species not predicted to occur on islands based on their mainland distributions and ecological traits, are foci for conservation attention. However, as many species becoming extinct on the islands may be irreplaceable, all species, in particular the Sardinian ones, deserve to be conserved. \u

Topics: Zoology, Ecology and Environment
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s10531-010-9863-4
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