The effect of forest ski-pistes on butterfly assemblages in the Alps
Article first published online: 14 MAY 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Insect Conservation and Diversity © 2012 The Royal Entomological Society
Insect Conservation and Diversity
Volume 6, Issue 3, pages 212–222, May 2013
How to Cite
ROLANDO, A., NEGRO, M., D’ENTRÈVES, P. P., BALLETTO, E. and PALESTRINI, C. (2013), The effect of forest ski-pistes on butterfly assemblages in the Alps. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 6: 212–222. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4598.2012.00204.x
- Issue published online: 22 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 14 MAY 2012
- Accepted 29 February 2012 Editor/associate editor: Simon R. Leather
- multivariate regression trees;
- natural reforestation;
- Rényi diversity profile;
Abstract. 1. The abandonment of man-made pastures below the tree line is favouring natural reforestation in the European Alps. As such, the creation of forest ski-pistes might, paradoxically, be beneficial to butterflies. This study is the first to focus on the effects of forest ski-pistes on butterfly assemblages (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera).
2. We sampled both butterflies and flowers on ski-pistes, in adjacent forests and in the nearest pastures at three sites in the Aosta Valley (north-western Italian Alps).
3. Transect counts showed that butterflies were more abundant on ski-pistes (and forests) than in pastures. However, species richness and diversity were lower on ski-pistes than on nearby pastures. Flower abundance was higher, but flower richness and diversity were lower on ski-pistes than in pastures. Multivariate regression trees indicated that butterfly abundance was positively associated with flower abundance and butterfly diversity was positively associated with flower diversity.
4. We conclude that: (i) butterfly abundance on ski-pistes was higher because in mid-summer these grassland strips were more abundant in flowers than nearby pastures and (ii) butterfly diversity was lower both because of the lower flower diversity and because of the higher isolation and/or smaller area of ski-pistes by comparison with pastures.
5. In the Alps, several grassland butterfly species are of conservation concern. Ski-pistes are probably sub-optimal habitats for butterflies. Nevertheless, within a natural reforestation framework, they may be useful to butterfly conservation, on condition that they are completely re-vegetated and that grass cover of ski-pistes are favoured and maintained to facilitate their colonisation.