BUTTERFLY DIVERSITY IN THE JAFFNA PENINSULA AND THE SURROUNDING ISLETS

ASELA1 M.D.C., T.N. PEIRIS, A. KASIGE, D.K. WEERAKOON

Abstract


Sri Lanka supports a rich butterfly fauna that comprise of 245 species of which 26 are endemic to the country. Northern region of Sri Lanka supports a unique butterfly assemblage, possibly due to its proximity to mainland India, with five butterfly faunal species being restricted to the northern region. However, there are only few studies on the butterfly fauna of the north as this region was not accessible for such studies for over three decades due to the armed conflict that prevailed in the north. This study was undertaken to document the butterfly fauna that inhabits Jaffna peninsula and the surrounding islets. This study was conducted between March 2010 and June 2010 during which 7 major locations in the Jaffna district were sampled. Altogether 10 major natural and man made habitats were observed within the study area. This study indicates that Jaffna peninsula and the surrounding islands support a rich butterfly assemblage, as nearly 20% (50 species) of the butterfly fauna of Sri Lanka was recorded in the region including three out of five species that are restricted to the northern region of Sri Lanka. None of the 50 species of butterflies recorded are endemic species. However, four species listed as Vulnerable and two species listed as Near Threatened species were recorded in the study area. Butterfly diversity was found to be highest in the Jaffna Peninsula that has a larger land area compared to the islands The diversity in the islands was found to be strongly correlated to the size of the island. Further, butterfly communities were found to be similar in islands that are located close to each other.

KEY WORDS: Butterfly diversity, Habitat




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References


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