Impact of forest management systems on diversity and abundance of butterflies in the Asenanyo Forest Reserve, Ghana

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June, 2016
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Every forest management practice has the potential to affect the structural elements of the forest and the habitat conditions of the biodiversity living in it. Forest management practices such as selective logging and plantation establishment have been widely practice, however, there is limited information on the potential effect of these systems butterfly diversity and abundance. This study was conducted in the Asenanyo River Forest Reserve to determine the impact of forest management systems on the diversity and abundance of butterflies in the forest reserve. Transect method using standard fruit baited traps were employed to capture butterflies in an unlogged, selectively logged and plantation forest management zones. In each study site, six transects were located at least 500 m apart and on each transect, eight trap net stations spaced at 100 m were installed for a more quantitative butterfly diversity sampling. Shannon-Wiener and Simpson‘s diversity indexes were used to analyze for species richness and diversity of butterflies. A total of 2,314 butterfly specimens belonging to 87 species, 41genera and 5 families were trapped in the understory of the three management zones in the forest reserve. The selective logged zone recorded the largest number of butterflies (968) followed by unlogged (880) whiles the plantation recorded the least butterflies of (466). Shannon-Wiener and Simpson‘s indices for the selectively logged forest and unlogged forest were similar. Shannon-Wiener and Simpson‘s indices were however significantly higher in the unlogged than in the plantation forest (P< 0.05). The findings of the study indicated that butterfly diversity and abundance were directly related to plant diversity, abundance and canopy cover, thus highlighting the important role vegetation play in determining butterfly assemblages in the forest. The study further showed that although xi plantations are generally poor substitutes for the butterfly habitat compared to intact forest, they did provide habitat of some form for forest butterflies. It is recommended that further studies should consider vertical stratification in the forest reserve and the impact of seasonal variations on the butterfly species
A thesis submitted to The Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Science,