Butterfly, spider, and plant communities in different land-use types in Sardinia, Italy

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Butterfly, spider, and plant species richness and diversity were investigated in five different land-use types in Sardinia. In 16 one-hectare plots we measured a set of 15 environmental variables to detect the most important factors determining patterns of variation in species richness, particularly endemicity. The studied land-use types encompassed homogeneous and heterogeneous shrublands, shrublands with tree-overstorey, Quercus forest and agricultural land. A total of 30 butterfly species, among which 10 endemics, and 50 spider (morpho)species, were recorded. Butterfly and spider community composition differed according to land-use type. The main environmental factors determining diversity patterns in butterflies were the presence of flowers and trees. Spiders reacted mainly to habitat heterogeneity and land-use type. Traditional land-use did not have adverse effects on the diversity of butterflies, spiders, or plants. The number of endemic butterfly species per treatment increased with total species richness and altitude. Butterfly and spider richness did not co-vary across the five land-use types. Butterflies were, however, positively associated with plant species richness and elevation, whereas spiders were not. Conclusively, butterflies did not appear to be good indicators for spider diversity and species richness at the studied sites.

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