This website requires JavaScript.
DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.22.541638

One size does not fit all: Family specific differences in seasonal patterns of abundance and behavior in butterfly communities

G. E.Hirzel A. E. Anderson E. L. Westerman
Animal communities can undergo seasonal shifts in assemblage, responding to changes in their environment. Animal behavior can also shift due to seasonal environmental variation, with the potential to shape ecosystems. However, it is unclear if similar environmental factors and time scales affect both abundance and behavior. We examined how butterfly abundance and behavior change seasonally in temperate prairies and a butterfly garden, and if the factors driving variation differ between taxonomic families. We conducted monthly abundance surveys year-round and biweekly abundance and behavior surveys during the summer and fall, in 2017-2021 and 2018-2020 respectively. We also determined how ambient light, temperature, precipitation, and time of year interact to affect butterfly abundance and behavior. We found increased temperature and light levels correlate with increases in general butterfly abundance. Unlike the greater community, Lycaenidae abundance decreased as weekly precipitation increased, and Papilionidae abundance did not respond to changes in environmental factors. Only Nymphalidae changed behavior in response to environmental factors, increasing thermoregulatory behaviors as temperature and light levels decreased. These results indicate that lineages may differ in their sensitivity to environmental factors, which could result in disproportionate changes in their abundances in response to future climate change and anthropogenic-driven disturbance.