Impact of mining activity on butterfly diversity and community composition
Shbbir Raza Khan, Neelkamal Rastogi
The distribution and composition of butterfly assemblages was studied along a disturbance gradient caused by mining activity, in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, in India. Mining activity was found to have a negative impact but revegetation had a strong positive impact on butterfly community richness. The overall abundance, diversity and richness of the butterfly assemblages, therefore, increased with increase in mine site restoration. Correspondence analysis reveals that most species belonging to family Nymphalidae demonstrate a strong positive association with the highly disturbed sites and are thus disturbance tolerant. This may be because Nymphalidae such as Danaus genutia and Danaus chrysippus feed on the nectar of a wide variety of weeds such as Euphorbia hirta, Calotropis gigantea and the invasive species, Lantana camara, found in disturbed mine sites. In contrast, some butterfly species such as Ixias pyrene, Eurema hecabe, and Papilio polytes were found to be sensitive to disturbance regimes. The absence the latter species from moderately and highly disturbed sites may be due to the larval host plant preferences since the least disturbed and reference sites were characterized by higher diversity and more mature plants. Thus, butterfly assemblage composition appears to be a good predictor of mine site restoration success.