Temporal distribution of fruit-feeding butterflies (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) in the eastern extreme of the Amazon region
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ABSTRACT Rainfall is one of the most influential factors driving insect seasonality in the Amazon region. However, few studies have analyzed the temporal dynamics of fruit-feeding butterflies in the Brazilian Amazon, specially in its eastern portion. Here, we evaluated the diversity patterns and temporal distribution of fruit-feeding butterflies in a remnant of eastern Amazon forest in the Baixada Maranhense, northeastern Brazil. Specifically, we tested whether fruit-feeding butterflies are temporally structured and whether rainfall influences species richness and abundance. Butterflies were collected with baited traps in both the rainy and dry seasons for two consecutive years. In total, we captured 493 butterflies belonging to 28 species, 15 genera and eight tribes. Three species comprised about half of the overall abundance, and Satyrinae was the most representative subfamily. The fruit-feeding butterfly assemblage showed a strong temporal structure during the second year of sampling, but not during the first year. Species composition and richness did not differ between rainy and dry seasons, and neither abundance nor richness was influenced by rainfall. Our results indicate that seasonality is not a strong environmental filter in this region, and that other biotic and abiotic factors are probably driving the community structure. The predominance of palms in the Baixada Maranhense, which are used as host plants by larvae of several lepidopteran species (specially satyrines) and are available year-round, might have contributed to the observed patterns of temporal diversity.