Biodiversity and conservation status of Butterflies in Western Himalaya, India: An appraisal
Deepika Mehra, Jagbir Singh Kirti and Avtar Kaur Sidhu
In India, the Himalayan ranges extending from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh up to Uttarakhand is known as Western Himalaya. In the present study, 493 butterfly species are recognized from the Western Himalaya, constituting approximately 30 % of the total Indian butterfly fauna. Threatened butterflies have narrower niches, more restricted distributions of the larval host plants, poorer dispersal abilities and shorter flight periods. The objective of this study is to distinguish the actual threatened taxa in the highly fragile ecosystem of Western Himalaya, for which the published data and recent field observations (from 2013 to 2016) have been utilized to create a dataset of various ecological characteristics (distribution, local status and habitat utilization) for different butterfly species. Many of the narrowly endemic taxa, which are currently not protected, were highlighted and were termed as ‘priority species’ which should be included in Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 list. Study showed that status of most of the butterfly taxa was not assessed under IUCN 2016. Besides, taxa with no recent records from Northern Himalaya were also highlighted to emphasize the severity of the habitat degradation and loss of biodiversity.