• biocontrol;
  • butterflies;
  • Diorhabda;
  • exotics;
  • floodplain;
  • Lepidoptera;
  • metric;
  • nectar;
  • Populus;
  • restoration;
  • riparian;
  • Salix;
  • Tamarix


We studied butterfly assemblages at eight riparian sites over five years. Sites included Tamarix spp.–dominated riparian areas; sites where mechanical means or biological control agents (Diorhabda elongata deserticola) were used to limit Tamarix; sites that were mixtures of native woody vegetation (e.g., Populus and Salix) and Tamarix; and native vegetation sites. We identified a gradient in butterfly community composition that changed from treated Tamarix sites, through mixed vegetation, to native vegetation sites. Tamarix sites had lower butterfly metric (riparian butterfly index [RBI]) values than did native vegetation sites. The RBI is based on a combination of richness measures and the presence of specific species and groups of butterflies. There was no significant change in the RBI over sampling periods at any sites, including both Tamarix eradication sites. The RBI at sites where Tamarix control took place did not approach restoration goals based on values at unimpacted sites. Positive effects on riparian butterfly assemblages were not linked to any Tamarix control efforts, nor did we detect a decline from initial butterfly metrics at Tamarix sites. Direct ordination provided information on environmental variables, such as amount of nectar and herbaceous plant richness, which may be important in riparian restoration efforts.