Short-Term Temporal Effects on Community Structure of Lepidoptera in Restored and Remnant Tallgrass Prairies


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Understanding the degree to which species assemblages naturally vary over time will be critically important when assessing whether direct management effects or contingency is responsible for species gain or loss. In this study, we tested three predictions related to short-term variation in prairie moth communities: (1) communities would only exhibit significant temporal variation in newly restored sites (1–3 years old); (2) prairie size and age would positively influence community reassembly, with larger, older restorations sampling a greater proportion of the regional species pool; and (3) older restorations (7–10 years old) would have yet to converge on the community composition of prairie remnants. Moths were sampled from 13 Tallgrass prairie restorations and remnants in central Iowa in 2004–2005. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed significant effects of sampling year on moth species richness and abundance as well as on the richness of two functional groups, but difference among prairie types was only observed in 2005. Rarefaction analysis revealed that older restorations and prairie remnants supported higher species richness compared to recently planted sites, and nonmetric, multidimensional scaling ordination indicated that restorations older than 7 years were clearly converging on the species composition of remnants. These results suggest that moth communities in restorations and remnants are highly variable in time but that as restorations age, they appear to reaccumulate moth species found in prairie remnants. The long-term persistence of a particular species assemblage within a given site, however, might be a difficult endpoint to attain in central Iowa prairies because of significant annual variation in species occurrence.