Abstract

Introduction: A reliable list of species and the analysis of diversity patterns of hyperdiverse taxa, like butterflies, are fundamental for monitoring and managing biological resources. Oaxaca is one of the most diverse states in Mexico for many groups including Lepidoptera and most of its diversity is unknown. Objective: to estimate and describe the species richness and diversity of Papilionidae and Pieridae along an altitudinal gradient and five vegetation types in the Loxicha Region, Oaxaca, Sierra Madre del Sur. Methods: Sampling effort comprised 222 collecting days during a period of seven years. We estimated the alpha diversity for 17 sites within an elevational gradient from 80 to 2 850 m, with five vegetation types: tropical deciduous forest (TDF), tropical sub-deciduous forest (TSDF), cloud forest (low and middle levels) (CF), oak-pine and cloud forest (high level) (OPCF) and oak-pine forest (OPF). Results: We obtained a list of 69 species (27 Papilionidae and 42 Pieridae), of 34 genera and five subfamilies, from literature records and fieldwork. These species are 60 % of the Pieridae and 48 % of the Papilionidae recorded for the state. The Loxicha Region has 36 % of the Pieridae and 30 % of the Papilionidae of Mexico. Both families present different species richness patterns by vegetation type. Papilionidae is richer in the TDF with 23 estimated species and most of the species of this family (84 %) occur below 500 m. Meanwhile, species richness of Pieridae has non-significant differences among vegetations types, except for OPF which has fewer species than the other types. The elevational gradient was divided into three levels (0-750, 750-1 800, 1 800-2 850 m) showing a reduction of species richness and diversity for both families at higher altitudes. Conclusions: Papilionidae species are more restricted to a vegetation type or elevational level than Pieridae species. Likely reasons are higher vagility (including migrations) and wider ecological tolerance of most Pieridae.

Keywords: butterflies, abundance, species richness estimation, altitudinal distribution, cloud forest