Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Ryan I. Hill

First Committee Member

John Mayberry

Second Committee Member

Tara C. Thiemann

Abstract

The composition of neotropical fruit-feeding nymphalid butterflies assemblages often varies by location and stratum within a forest. Recent work has shown that vertical stratification in particular may serve as barrier to gene flow, indicating the potential role vertical stratification may play in evolution. At forest edges, the distinction between assemblages has been described to decrease, with species considered to be canopy specialists descending to the forest understory. The similarity in light conditions between the canopy and understory strata at edges or disturbed habitat is hypothesized to be responsible for this phenomenon. We conducted a study using standardized sampling to document and quantify this edge effect, characterize edge and forest strata, and estimate the relative contributions of temperature and light conditions on nymphalid stratification. We found strong evidence of an edge effect in butterflies and confirmed strong differences in light and temperature showing that the edge understory differs little from forest canopy conditions. However, analyses here did not clearly implicate temperature or light in causing changes in neotropical nymphalid vertical stratification at forest edges.

Pages

74

Available for download on Thursday, May 26, 2022

Included in

Biology Commons

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