Skip to main content Accessibility help

The impacts of recurrent fires on diversity of fruit-feeding butterflies in a south-eastern Amazon forest

  • Rafael B. de Andrade (a1) (a2), Jennifer K. Balch (a2), Junia Y. O. Carreira (a1), Paulo M. Brando (a3) (a4) and André V. L. Freitas (a1)...


In the south-eastern Amazon, positive feedbacks between land use and severe weather events are increasing the frequency and intensity of fires, threatening local biodiversity. We sampled fruit-feeding butterflies in experimental plots in a south-eastern Amazon forest: one control plot, one plot burned every 3 y, one plot burned yearly. We also measured environmental parameters (canopy cover, temperature, humidity). Our results show no significant differences in overall species richness between plots (34, 37 and 33 species respectively), although richness was lower in burned plots during the dry season. We found significant differences in community composition and structure between control and burned plots, but not between burned treatments. In the control plot, forest-specialist species represented 64% of total abundance, decreasing to 50% in burned every 3 y and 54% in yearly burned plots. Savanna specialist species were absent in the control plot, but represented respectively 8% and 3% of total abundance in burned plots. The best predictor of the change in spatial community patterns and abundance of forest specialists was canopy cover. Although we found high resilience to forest burning in many species, our study suggests that fire disturbance can still be a threat to forest specialists due to changes in microclimate.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All
ANDRADE, R. B. & FREITAS, A. V. L. 2005. Population biology of two species of Heliconius (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae) in a semi-deciduous forest in southeastern Brazil. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 59:223228.
ANDRADE, R. B., BARLOW, J., LOUZADA, J., VAZ-DE-MELLO, F. Z., SOUZA, M., SILVEIRA, J. M. & COCHRANE, M. A. 2011. Quantifying responses of dung beetles to fire disturbance in tropical forests: The importance of trapping method and seasonality. PLoS ONE 6:e26208.
ANDRADE, R. B., BARLOW, J., LOUZADA, J., VAZ-DE-MELLO, F. Z., SILVEIRA, J. M. & COCHRANE, M. A. 2014. Tropical forest fires and biodiversity: dung beetle community and biomass responses in a northern Brazilian Amazon forest. Journal of Insect Conservation 18:10971104.
ARAGÃO, L. E. O. C. & SHIMABUKURO, Y. E. 2010. The incidence of fire in Amazonian forests with implications for REDD. Science 328:12751278.
ARAGÃO, L. E. O. C., POULTER, B., BARLOW, J. B., ANDERSON, L. O., MALHI, Y., SAATCHI, S., PHILLIPS, O. L. & GLOOR, E. 2014. Environmental change and the carbon balance of Amazonian forests. Biological Reviews 89:913931.
AUSTIN, G. T. 1992. New and additional records of Costa Rican butterflies. Tropical Lepidoptera 3:2533.
BALCH, J. K., NEPSTAD, D. C., BRANDO, P. M., CURRAN, L. M., PORTELA, O., DE CARVALHO, O. & LEFEBVRE, P. 2008. Negative fire feedback in a transitional forest of southeastern Amazonia. Global Change Biology 14:22762287.
BALCH, J. K., NEPSTAD, D. C., CURRAN, L. M., BRANDO, P. M., PORTELA, O., GUILHERME, P., REUNING-SCHERER, J. D. & DE CARVALHO, O. 2011. Size, species, and fire behavior predict tree and liana mortality from experimental burns in the Brazilian Amazon. Forest Ecology and Management 261:6877.
BALCH, J. K., MASSAD, T. J., BRANDO, P. M., NEPSTAD, D. C. & CURRAN, L. M. 2013. Effects of high-frequency understorey fires on woody plant regeneration in southeastern Amazonian forests. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368:20120157.
BALCH, J. K., BRANDO, P. M., NEPSTAD, D. C., COE, M. T., SILVÉRIO, D., MASSAD, T. J., DAVIDSON, E. A., LEFEBVRE, P., OLIVEIRA-SANTOS, C., ROCHA, W., CURY, R. T. S., PARSONS, A. & CARVALHO, K. S. 2015. The susceptibility of southeastern Amazon forests to fire: Insights from a large-scale burn experiment. Bioscience 65:893905.
BARLOW, J. & PERES, C. A. 2004. Avifaunal responses to single and recurrent wildfires in Amazonian forests. Ecological Applications 14:13581373.
BARLOW, J. & PERES, C. A. 2006. Effects of single and recurrent wildfires on fruit production and large vertebrate abundance in a central Amazonian forest. Biodiversity and Conservation 15:9851012.
BARLOW, J., OVERAL, W. L., ARAUJO, I. S., GARDNER, T. A. & PERES, C. A. 2007a. The value of primary, secondary and plantation forests for fruit-feeding butterflies in the Brazilian Amazon. Journal of Applied Ecology 44:10011012.
BARLOW, J., GARDNER, T. A., ARAUJO, I. S., AVILA-PIRES, T. C., BONALDO, A. B., COSTA, J. E., ESPOSITO, M. C., FERREIRA, L. V, HAWES, J., HERNANDEZ, M. I. M., HOOGMOED, M. S., LEITE, R. N., LO-MAN-HUNG, N. F., MALCOLM, J. R., MARTINS, M. B., MESTRE, L. A. M., MIRANDA-SANTOS, R., NUNES-GUTJAHR, A. L., OVERAL, W. L., PARRY, L., PETERS, S. L., RIBEIRO-JUNIOR, M. A., DA SILVA, M. N. F., MOTTA, C. DA S. & PERES, C. A. 2007b. Quantifying the biodiversity value of tropical primary, secondary, and plantation forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104:1855518560.
BARLOW, J., SILVEIRA, J. M., MESTRE, L. A. M., ANDRADE, R. B. DE, D'ANDREA, G. C., LOUZADA, J., VAZ-DE-MELLO, F. Z., NUMATA, I., LACAU, S. & COCHRANE, M. A. 2012. Wildfires in bamboo-dominated Amazonian Forest: impacts on above-ground biomass and biodiversity. PLoS ONE 7:e33373.
BECCALONI, G. W., HALL, S. K., VILORIA, A. L. & ROBINSON, G. S. 2008. Catalogue of the hostplants of the Neotropical Butterflies/Catálogo de las plantas huéspedes de las mariposas Neotropicales, 8. The Natural History Museum/Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas. 536 pp.
BLOCK, W. M., FRANKLIN, A. B., WARD, J. P., GANEY, J. L. & WHITE, G. C. 2001. Design and implementation of monitoring studies to evaluate the success of ecological restoration on wildlife. Restoration Ecology 9:293303.
BRANDO, P. M., NEPSTAD, D. C., BALCH, J. K., BOLKER, B., CHRISTMAN, M. C., COE, M. & PUTZ, F. E. 2012. Fire-induced tree mortality in a neotropical forest: the roles of bark traits, tree size, wood density and fire behavior. Global Change Biology 18:630641.
BRANDO, P. M., BALCH, J. K., NEPSTAD, D. C., MORTON, D. C., PUTZ, F. E., COE, M. T., SILVÉRIO, D., MACEDO, M. N., DAVIDSON, E. A., NÓBREGA, C. C., ALENCAR, A. & SOARES-FILHO, B. S. 2014. Abrupt increases in Amazonian tree mortality due to drought–fire interactions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 111:63476352.
BRITO, M. M., RIBEIRO, D. B., RANIERO, M., HASUI, E., RAMOS, F. N. & ARAB, A. 2014. Functional composition and phenology of fruit-feeding butterflies in a fragmented landscape: variation of seasonality between habitat specialists. Journal of Insect Conservation 18:547560.
BRODIE, J., POST, E. & LAURANCE, W. F. 2012. Climate change and tropical biodiversity: a new focus. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27:145150.
BROWN, K. S. 2005. Geologic, evolutionary, and ecological bases of the diversification of neotropical butterflies: implications for conservation. Pp. 166201 in Dick, C. W. & Moritz, G. (eds.). Tropical rainforest: past, present, and future. Chicago University Press, Chicago.
BRYANT, S. R., THOMAS, C. D. & BALE, J. S. 2002. The influence of thermal ecology on the distribution of three nymphalid butterflies. Journal of Applied Ecology 39:4355.
CHARRETTE, N. A., CLEARY, D. F. R. & MOOERS, A. Ø. 2006. Range-restricted, specialist bornean butterflies are less likely to recover from Enso-induced disturbance. Ecology 87:23302337.
CHECA, M. F., RODRIGUEZ, J., WILLMOT, K. R. & LIGER, B. 2014. Microclimate variability significantly affects the composition, abundance and phenology of butterfly communities in a highly threatened neotropical dry forest. Florida Entomologist 97:113.
CLARKE, K. R. 1993. Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology 18:117143.
CLARKE, K. R. & AINSWORTH, M. 1993. A method of linking multivariate community structure to environmental variables. Marine Ecology-Progress Series 92:205219.
CLEARY, D. F. R. & GENNER, M. J. 2004. Changes in rain forest butterfly diversity following major ENSO-induced fires in Borneo. Global Ecology and Biogeography 13:129140.
COCHRANE, M. A. 2003. Fire science for rainforests. Nature 421:913919.
COCHRANE, M. A. & BARBER, C. P. 2009. Climate change, human land use and future fires in the Amazon. Global Change Biology 15:601612.
COLWELL, R. K., MAO, C. X. & CHANG, J. 2004. Interpolating, extrapolating, and comparing incidence-based species accumulation curves. Ecology 85:27172727.
CONNELL, J. H. 1978. Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199:13021310.
DORMANN, C. F., MCPHERSON, J. M., ARAÚJO, M. B., BIVAND, R., BOLLIGER, J., CARL, G. G., DAVIES, R. G., HIRZEL, A., JETZ, W., DANIEL KISSLING, W. D., KÜHN, I., OHLEMÜLLER, R. R., PERES-NETO, P. R., REINEKING, B., SCHRÖDER, B. M., SCHURR, F. M. & WILSON, R. 2007. Methods to account for spatial autocorrelation in the analysis of species distributional data: a review. Ecography 30:609628.
DUMBRELL, A. J. & HILL, J. K. 2005. Impacts of selective logging on canopy and ground assemblages of tropical forest butterflies: implications for sampling. Biological Conservation 125:123131.
FAYLE, T. M., TURNER, E. C., BASSET, Y., EWERS, R. M., REYNOLDS, G. & NOVOTNY, V. 2015. Whole-ecosystem experimental manipulations of tropical forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30:334346.
FILGUEIRAS, B. K. C., MELO, D. H. A., LEAL, I. R., TABARELLI, M., FREITAS, A. V. L. & IANNUZZI, L. 2016. Fruit-feeding butterflies in edge-dominated habitats: community structure, species persistence and cascade effect. Journal of Insect Conservation 20:539548.
FOX, J. & WEISBERG, S. 2011. An {R} companion to applied regression (Second edition). Sage, Thousand Oaks. 472 pp.
FREITAS, A. V. L., ISERHARD, C. A., SANTOS, J. P., CARREIRA, J. Y. O., RIBEIRO, D. B., MELO, D. H. A., ROSA, A. H. B., MARINI-FILHO, O. J., ACCACIO, G. M. & UEHARA-PRADO, M. 2014. Studies with butterfly bait traps: an overview. Revista Colombiana de Entomología 40:209218.
GARDNER, T. A., BARLOW, J., ARAUJO, I. S., AVILA-PIRES, T. C., BONALDO, A. B., COSTA, J. E., ESPOSITO, M. C., FERREIRA, L. V, HAWES, J., HERNANDEZ, M. I. M., HOOGMOED, M. S., LEITE, R. N., LO-MAN-HUNG, N. F., MALCOLM, J. R., MARTINS, M. B., MESTRE, L. A. M., MIRANDA-SANTOS, R., OVERAL, W. L., PARRY, L., PETERS, S. L., RIBEIRO-JUNIOR, M. A., DA SILVA, M. N. F., MOTTA, C. DA S. & PERES, C. A. 2008. The cost-effectiveness of biodiversity surveys in tropical forests. Ecology Letters 11:139150.
HELLMANN, J. J. 2002. The effect of an environmental change on mobile butterfly larvae and the nutritional quality of their hosts. Journal of Animal Ecology 71:925936.
IMATOMI, M., SOUZA, J. P., GUALTIERI, S. C. J. & FERREIRA, A. G. 2014. The role of root buds in the regeneration of Casearia sylvestris Swartz (Salicaceae) in the cerrado, São Carlos, São Paulo state, Brazil. Hoehnea 41:345352.
KUNTE, K. 1997. Seasonal patterns in butterfly abundance and species diversity in four tropical habitats in northern Western Ghats. Journal of Biosciences 22:593603.
LAWTON, J. H., BIGNELL, D. E., BOLTON, B., BLOEMERS, G. F., EGGLETON, P., HAMMOND, P. M., HODDA, M., HOLT, R. D., LARSEN, T. B., MAWDSLEY, N. A., STORK, N. E., SRIVASTAVA, D. S. & WATT, A. D. 1998. Biodiversity inventories, indicator taxa and effects of habitat modification in tropical forest. Nature 391:7276.
LEATHER, S. R., BASSET, Y. & DIDHAM, R. K. 2014. How to avoid the top ten pitfalls in insect conservation and diversity research and minimise your chances of manuscript rejection. Insect Conservation and Diversity 7:13.
LEGENDRE, P. & LEGENDRE, L. 2012. Numerical ecology. Elsevier, Amsterdam. 968 pp.
MAGURRAN, A. E. 2004. Measuring biological diversity. Blackwell Publishing Inc, Malden. 264 pp.
MALHI, Y., ROBERTS, J. T., BETTS, R. A., KILLEEN, T. J., LI, W. & NOBRE, C. A. 2008. Climate change, deforestation, and the fate of the Amazon. Science 319:169172.
MESTRE, L. A. M., COCHRANE, M. A. & BARLOW, J. 2013. Long-term changes in bird communities after wildfires in the central Brazilian Amazon. Biotropica 45:480488.
NEPSTAD, D., CARVALHO, G., BARROS, A. C., ALENCAR, A., CAPOBIANCO, J. P., BISHOP, J., MOUTINHO, P., LEFEBVRE, P., LOPES SILVA, U. R. JR. & PRINS, E. 2001. Road paving, fire regime feedbacks, and the future of Amazon forests. Forest Ecology and Management 154:395407.
NEW, T. R. 2014. Insects, fire and conservation. Springer, London. 208 pp.
NICHOLS, E., SPECTOR, S., LOUZADA, J., LARSEN, T., AMEZQUITA, S. & FAVILA, M. E. 2008. Ecological functions and ecosystem services provided by Scarabaeinae dung beetles. Biological Conservation 141:14611474.
NYAFWONO, M., VALTONEN, A., NYEKO, P. & ROININEN, H. 2014. Butterfly Community composition across a successional gradient in a human-disturbed Afro-tropical rain forest. Biotropica 46:210218.
PARDONNET, S., BECK, H., MILBERG, P., BERGMAN, K-O. 2010. Effect of tree-fall gaps on fruit-feeding Nymphalidae assemblages in a Peruvian rainforest. Biotropica 45:612619.
RIBEIRO, D. B. & FREITAS, A. V. L. 2012. The effect of reduced-impact logging on fruit-feeding butterflies in Central Amazon, Brazil. Journal of Insect Conservation 16:733744.
RIBEIRO, D. B., BATISTA, R., PRADO, P. I., BROWN, K. S. & FREITAS, A. V. L. 2012. The importance of small scales to the fruit-feeding butterfly assemblages in a fragmented landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation 21:811827.
SAMWAYS, M. J. 1993. Insects in biodiversity conservation – some perspectives and directives. Biodiversity and Conservation 2:258282.
SANT'ANNA, C. L. B., RIBEIRO, D. B., GARCIA, L. C. & FREITAS, A. V. L. 2014. Fruit-feeding butterfly communities are influenced by restoration age in tropical forests. Restoration Ecology 22:480485.
SHIMABUKURO, Y. E., BEUCHLE, R., GRECCHI, R. C., SIMONETTI, D. & ACHARD, F. 2014. Assessment of burned areas in Mato Grosso State, Brazil, from a systematic sample of medium resolution satellite imagery. Pp. 4257–4259 Proceedings of 2014 IEEE International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium. IEEE, Piscataway.
SILVEIRA, J. M., BARLOW, J., LOUZADA, J. & MOUTINHO, P. 2010. Factors affecting the abundance of leaf-litter arthropods in unburned and thrice-burned seasonally-dry Amazonian forests. PLoS ONE 5:e12877.
SILVEIRA, J. M., BARLOW, J., ANDRADE, R. B. DE, MESTRE, L. A., LACAU, S. & COCHRANE, M. A. 2012. Responses of leaf-litter ant communities to tropical forest wildfires vary with season. Journal of Tropical Ecology 28:515518.
SILVEIRA, J. M., BARLOW, J., ANDRADE, R. B., LOUZADA, J., MESTRE, L. A., LACAU, S., ZANETTI, R., NUMATA, I. & COCHRANE, M. A. 2013. The responses of leaf litter ant communities to wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon: a multi-region assessment. Biodiversity and Conservation 22:513529.
SILVÉRIO, D. V., BRANDO, P. M., BALCH, J. K., PUTZ, F. E., NEPSTAD, D. C., OLIVEIRA-SANTOS, C. & BUSTAMANTE, M. M. C. 2013. Testing the Amazon savannization hypothesis: fire effects on invasion of a neotropical forest by native cerrado and exotic pasture grasses. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 368:20120427.
SOMBROEK, W. 2001. Spatial and temporal patterns of Amazon rainfall. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 30:388396.
TUFTO, J., LANDE, R., RINGSBY, T.-H., ENGEN, S., SÆTHER, B.-E., WALLA, T. R. & DEVRIES, P. J. 2012. Estimating Brownian motion dispersal rate, longevity and population density from spatially explicit mark–recapture data on tropical butterflies. Journal of Animal Ecology 81:756769.
UEHARA-PRADO, M., BROWN, K. S. & FREITAS, A. V. L. 2007. Species richness, composition and abundance of fruit-feeding butterflies in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: comparison between a fragmented and a continuous landscape. Global Ecology and Biogeography 16:4354.
VENABLES, W. N. & RIPLEY, B. D. 2002. Modern applied statistics with S-Plus. (Fourth edition). Springer, New York. 462 pp.
WALLISDEVRIES, M. F. & VAN SWAAY, C. A. M. 2006. Global warming and excess nitrogen may induce butterfly decline by microclimatic cooling. Global Change Biology 12:16201626.
YAMAMOTO, N., YOKOYAMA, J. & KAWATA, M. 2007. Relative resource abundance explains butterfly biodiversity in island communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104:1052410529.


The impacts of recurrent fires on diversity of fruit-feeding butterflies in a south-eastern Amazon forest

  • Rafael B. de Andrade (a1) (a2), Jennifer K. Balch (a2), Junia Y. O. Carreira (a1), Paulo M. Brando (a3) (a4) and André V. L. Freitas (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed