Detrimental effects of low atmospheric humidity and forest fire on a community of western Himalayan butterflies

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P. Smetacek


Compared to previous years, the period from October 2008 to March 2009 showed marked reductions in species number and population size in the butterfly community of the Maheshkhan Reserve Forest, Nainital District, Uttarakhand. Desiccation of pupae due to abnormally low atmospheric humidity after the failure of seasonal rains appears to have been a major cause of this reduction. The drop in humidity also appears to be linked to the unusual spread of fires affecting broadleaf forests, one of which in May 2009 wiped out the remaining Maheshkhan butterfly community.

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Author Biography

P. Smetacek

Peter Smetacek runs the Butterfly Research Centre in Bhimtal, Uttarakhand. He has worked on Lepidoptera for more than 30 years and has published 50 scientific papers. He is the first Indian to discover and describe a butterfly taxon, Neptis miah varshneyi. He has described a dozen moths and butterflies new to science.

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