The lycaenid butterfly fauna (Lepidoptera) of Cosñipata, Peru: annotated checklist, elevational patterns, and rarity
Keywords:Encounter rates, Eumaeini, mid-domain effect, seasonality, species richness
Peru’s Cosñipata Region in Cuzco and Madre de Dios Departments is a valley between Manu National Park and the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve that ranges from 400 to 4,000 m elevation. A team of experienced lepidopterists sampled the butterfly fauna of this valley for more than a decade (7,440 field person-hours). We analyze the data for Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea), a family for which we have taxonomic expertise. After adding data on the fauna from museums and the literature, we present an annotated checklist of the 340 Lycaenidae species recorded from the Cosñipata Region with notes for each species on the elevations and seasons at which it occurs, adult behavior, and sampled relative abundance. Species richness is twice that recorded for Trinidad or Brazil’s Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, each of which also has a mix of low, mid, and high elevation habitats. There was an average of 8.3 adult specimens per species in the fieldwork sample. For those species with more than 8 specimens, the median elevational range was 1,100 m. Species richness in low elevation habitats was greater than that at mid or high elevations, which is contrary to findings for some other Neotropical insects. We present evidence why further sampling is likely to increase this difference. Maximal adult species richness occurs during the transition from dry to wet seasons (September to November) at all elevations, but there is little evidence that adults of species occur only during this season. Sampled relative abundances were skewed so that 70% of the species were encountered less frequently than average (1/340). These results are consistent with the observation that most species are rarely encountered using standard sampling methods.