Common Butterflies of the Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve
Owing to its unique geography and location, Ecuador is among the world`s so-called `Biodiversity Hotspots`. The country`s rich rainforests, tropical dry forests, alpine grasslands, wetlands, and rivers are home to more species than almost any other place on Earth. Here, butterflies are no exception; in just a few hectares of Ecuadorian Amazon forest, one may find as many as 1,200 species! Compare that to about 450 for all of North America (Ecuador has nearly 2,700 species total).
The Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve is located at the intersection of Andean and Amazonian rainforests, an epicenter of biodiversity in Ecuador.
Geoffrey R. Gallice, University of Florida
Threats to Diversity
During the 1990s, a survey of the butterflies of Jatun Sacha counted over 800 species – an astonishing number. Since that time, deforestation and degredation of the surrounding landscape have altered the ecosystem both within and around the reserve. How many of those species persist, and how many will remain with continued human pressure? If scientists can learn to separate the effects of anthropogenic disturbance from normal fluctuations in species diversity and abundance, butterflies may be able to help us monitor the health of the Amazon forest.