Scientists find 77 new butterfly species in Matheran

Winged beauties: The research paper provides a glimpse of the rare butterflies in the hill station.  

After a long gap of 125 years, scientists have found 140 rare species of butterflies, including 77 new ones, in Matheran. The last time butterflies were codified in this eco-sensitive zone was in 1894, when a researcher identified 78 species.

‘Finding the forgotten gems: Revisiting the butterflies of Matheran after 125 years’, a research paper by scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Somaiya Vidya Vihar University published in the Biodiversity Data Journal, provides a glimpse of the rare butterflies in the hill station.

The paper said, “We observed a strong seasonal variation in butterfly diversity. The maximum diversity (125) of butterflies was recorded during winter, while the least (80) during monsoon. A high similarity of butterfly species composition was observed between the pairs of sites studied, tending towards perfect nestedness.”

The paper has listed the species surveyed between 2011 and 2019. “Ours is the first dedicated checklist for the butterflies of Matheran after J.A. Betham (1894). He listed 78 species of butterflies, combining the list of sixty butterflies provided by Smith (1882) and the list of butterflies recorded by him between April and May 1892,” the paper said.

Scientists find 77 new butterfly species in Matheran

Scientists Mandar Sawant, Dr. Nikhil Modak and Sagar Sarang said it took them eight years of fieldwork in the forests of Matheran to come out with the research paper.

Mr. Sawant said, “While roaming the forests of Matheran and clicking these flying beauties, we never thought somewhere in future we will be working on this data to give it a form of a research paper.”

Dr. Modak was instrumental in the team using biostatistical techniques. The team used a barcode system to denote seasons and the activities of the butterflies.

They hope this system will help biologists studying butterflies present such data concisely and effectively.

“Butterflies are not just beautiful creatures but also indicators of a healthy environment and ecosystem. A long-term study of butterflies will surely help the scientific community understand and conserve the health of the ecosystem,” the BNHS said.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 8:36:10 PM |

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