Effect of experimental selective logging on tropical butterflies
I investigatedegd the effects of an experimental selective logging regime on the assemblage of fruit-feeding butterflies in replicated experimental plots in the Chiquibul Forest, Belize. Over a 12-month period, I caught 1187 individuals of 49 species using fruit-baited traps. Selective logging at densities of six stems per ha 3 years before the study had little effect on butterfly species richness, the abundance of individual species, or the shape of species-abundance distributions. There was no tendency for taxa with restricted geographical ranges to be particularly sensitive to selective logging. Mark-release-recapture results suggest that most butterflies move relatively short distances, but that some dispersal occurs between plots separated by distances of ≥1 km, The apparent similarity of the fruit-feeding butterfly assemblage in selectively logged and unlogged forest contrasts with previous studies of butterfly assemblages but mirrors results for birds in the same plots. A possible explanation is the high frequency of natural disturbance - Hurricanes and associated fires - In the Chiquibul Forest. The species present appear to be adapted to naturally disturbed habitats and may therefore be relatively unaffected by selective logging. Local studies of the effects of selective logging must take into account the history of natural and human disturbance in the study area. The results support the case for "ecological forestry," in which sustainable management regimes work within the limits imposed by natural disturbance.