With flying colors: New study assesses how different land-use types relate to butterfly diversity

SCIENCE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

The very hungry caterpillar needs food and shelter – and depending on its life-history traits, its requirements can be either decidedly specific or just as generic as the children’s book illustrates: A new study by Wurz et al. (2022) draws off this vast diversity and uses butterflies as a model taxon to assess effects of land-use change on biodiversity in Madagascar. Butterflies demonstrate a complex life cycle, often with host plant specialization during the larval stages, and may respond differently to habitat changes. The higher their habitat specialization, the more likely they are to face extinction when confronted with land-use changes. In Madagascar, landscapes are highly fragmented due to forest areas being turned into agricultural land. Here, agroforestry is advocated as a profitable and biodiversity-friendly land-use choice, allowing possible habitats for a variety of butterfly species.

Wurz et al. assess butterfly assemblages in woody land-use types (forest fragments, forest-derived vanilla…

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