Biodiversity Data Journal : Research Article
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Research Article
Finding the forgotten gems: revisiting the butterflies of Matheran after 125 years with introduction to novel colour barcode for depicting seasons and activity of the Indian butterflies
expand article infoMandar Sawant, Sagar Sarang§, Nikhil Modak‡,|
‡ Bombay Natural History Society, Hornbill House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Rd, Lion Gate, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, Mumbai, India
§ Department of Zoology, Somaiya Vidya Vihar University, Vidya Vihar (East), 400077, Mumbai, India
| 106, Kalpataru Tower CHSL, N/r. Sakharam Complex, Kopar Cross Road, Dombivli (West), 421202, Dombivli (West), India
Open Access

Abstract

We present here an updated checklist for the butterflies of Matheran, Maharashtra, India, an eco-sensitive zone, with identification remarks for locally rare or very rare butterflies. This is the first dedicated checklist for butterflies of Matheran after 125 years. A total of 140 species of butterflies were recorded belonging to six families. Amongst them, 15 species were either listed under Schedule I, II or IV of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. We also list the habitats of the species along with the data for their activity at the time of recording the observation. We propose a uniform colour code system for representing season and activity for the Indian butterflies. Examples of colour barcodes are provided with the images of rare and very rare butterflies. The lack of abundance data is a limitation of the study for which we propose long term monitoring with dedicated efforts.

Keywords

Lepidoptera, Eco-sensitive zone, biodiversity hotspot, colour barcode

Introduction

Butterflies are an ideal taxonomic group for ecological studies of landscapes (Thomas and Malorie 1985) and their value as indicators of biotope quality is being increasingly recognised because of their sensitivity to minor changes in micro-habitat, particularly to the luminosity (Kremen 1992). Further, the butterflies are good biological indicators of habitat quality, as well as for the general health of the environment (Larsen 1988; Kocher and Williams 2000; Sawchik et al. 2005). Long-term diversity studies could, therefore, indicate the health of the habitat and ecosystems therein.

Here, we provide a checklist for butterflies of Matheran surveyed between the years 2011 and 2019. Ours is the first dedicated checklist for the butterflies of Matheran after 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. Padhye et al. (2013) provided a list of 27 butterflies from Matheran, while compiling the checklists for the butterflies of Northern Western Ghats, which was far from complete when compared to that given by Betham (1894). Further, the data on the habitat and seasonal turnover for butterflies of Matheran are particularly lacking from all these studies. Our checklist is accompanied with data on habitat, seasonal turnover and behavioural observations taken at the time of recording the species. We provide a novel coloured barcode approach for indicating the season/s and types of behaviour which could be used for all Indian butterflies. Representative colour barcodes are provided with the images of rare and scheduled species.

Materials and Methods

Study Area

Matheran (18.9866°N 73.2679°E, 772 m a.s.l., WGS 84) is a small hill station located in Karjat Tehsil of Raigad District in the Indian State of Maharashtra (Fig. 1). It is spread over an area of 7 sq. km. Matheran literally means forest on the top of the mountains. Geologically, it is a basaltic mesa separated from the main escarpment of Western Ghats by the low lying plains of Konkan and is an example of regressive erosion (Pascal 1988). Matheran gained the status of an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) in 2003 from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India [S. O. 133 (E)]. The ESZ of the Matheran comprises an area of 214.73 sq. km. All types of industrial, developmental and vehicular activities are restricted by this governmental order, making Matheran unique amongst hill stations of Asia. It experiences a cooler climate throughout the year (23.2°C mean annual temperature) compared to the surrounding low lying area and experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoon (4073 mm mean annual rainfall). The landscapes of Matheran are represented by open or forested laterite plateaus, hill-slopes, dense valley forests, non-perennial streams, manmade lakes, clearings near forest paths and human habitation. The flora of Matheran is represented by tree species found in mid elevation type wet evergreen forest (Ramesh et al. 1997), dominated by Memecylon umbellatum, Syzygium cumini and Actinodaphne lanceolata (Birdwood 1886, Ramesh et al. 1997). The plateau also hosts species like Carallia integerrima, Glochidion lanceolarium, Olea dioica, Garcinia indica and Carissa carandas (Birdwood 1886). The area also shows the presence of many endemic species of orchids, grasses and other herbaceous plants (Kothari and Moorthy 1993).

Figure 1.  

Study area with its location in Maharashtra, India. Sampling sites are shown in green filled circles. Additionally, the survey was conducted on two trails, Neral-Dasturi Road (pink line) and Neral-Matheran Railway (green line).

Field Survey and Data Collection

The area was visited in all the three seasons, namely summer (Feb-May), monsoon (Jun-Sept) and winter (Oct-Jan) throughout the year from September 2011 to March 2019. Intermittent observations were taken between 06.00 hrs and 17.00 hrs for around three days a month. The butterflies were observed in all possible habitats at six localities and on two trails in and around Matheran (Table 1). A total of 22833 observations were made during nine years of the study (https://indiabiodiversity.org/dataTable/show/1755286) which are available as a data table on the India Biodiversity Portal (Vattakaven et al. 2016). To ascertain the identity of butterflies, photographs were taken and identifications were made with the keys provided by Evans (1932), Wynter-Blyth (1957), Kunte (2000), Kehimkar (2008), Kehimkar (2016) and Bhakare and Ogale (2018). The classification and nomenclature follows Kehimkar (2008), Van Gasse (2013) and Varshney and Smetacek (2015). The local status of the butterflies was decided, based on the number of records as very rare (≤ 5 records), rare (between 5 and 10), not common (between 10 and 20), common (between 20 and 50) and very common (> 50). This status does not correlate to the entire geographical distribution status of a corresponding species. The habitat, occurrence and behaviour of butterflies were noted and photo documented. The photo documentation was made with Nikon d500, d3200 and Cannon EOS 70d, Sony HX 100v digital cameras. The species were noted along with the date and location.

Table 1.

Survey sites in and around Matheran, India with their geographical, climatic and vegetation characteristics.

Site code

Study area

Characteristics

1

Simpson Tank

Small water barrage built on fast flowing stream surrounded by dense forest. Low canopy cover immediately over the barrage.

2

Charlotte Lake

Large artificial barrage enclosing artificial lake. Surrounded by dense forest.

3

Panorama Point

Mixed vegetation containing semi-evergreen forested patches and grasslands. High ambient moisture during monsoon accompanied by high wind currents.

4

Garbett Point

A small plateau associated with Matheran. Mixed vegetation containing semi-evergreen forested patches and grasslands. A small hamlet sustaining a human population prevalently that of the 'Dhangar' (Shepherd) tribe.

5

Rustumjee Point

Thick semi-evergreen vegetation. High ambient moisture during monsoon accompanied by high wind currents.

6

One tree hill point

Gradual hill slopes and edge of the valley. Thick semi-evergreen vegetation. High ambient moisture during monsoon accompanied by high wind currents. A torrential stream flows near this area.

7

Neral-Matheran Rail Route

Various types of vegetation elements with patches of wet evergreen, semi-evergreen forests and grasslands. Entire trail has valleys on one side and cliffs on the other. Many torrential streams intersect this area at various points during the monsoon. Cliffs seep with a thin film of water during the monsoon and early winter months. Gutters made for drainage of water hold it until late winter. Shutting down of railway transport during the monsoon leave this area more or less undisturbed from human interference for around four months.

8

Neral-Matheran Road way

Heavily-disturbed area with human interference holding patches of evergreen, semi-evergreen forests, monoculture of Acacia auriculiformis and grasslands. Entire trail has valleys on one side and cliffs on the other. Many torrential streams intersect this area at various points during the monsoon. Cliffs seep with a thin film of water during the monsoon and early winter months. Gutters made for drainage of water hold it until late winter and early summer.

Data Analysis

Based on the occurrence data, a species accumulation curve (SAC) was prepared in R (R Core Team 2020) using the SpecAccum function in vegan (Oksanen et al. 2019). Expected (mean) species richness was calculated using the data collected from eight sites (Table 1). Further, the occurrence data of the species were analysed for calculating Similarity-Richness difference-Species replacement simplex (SDR Simplex) using SDRSimplex (a stand-alone computer programme) (Podani and Schmera 2011). Ternary plots were plotted using NonHier platform of SYNTAX 2000 (Podani 2001). The number or percentage of the species recorded per family, during each season, at each site was calculated in Microsoft Excel 2007 and visualised using pie and bar charts.

Preparation of Colour codes

The colour codes (Table 2) were prepared for easy and uniform representation of seasons and various behavioural activities of the Indian butterflies. Summer, monsoon and winter were given basic red, green and indigo colours in the CMYK scheme. These colours also correspond to temperature shifts in the seasons from hotter to cooler weather conditions. For combination of seasons, the corresponding combination of colours was used. Colours were mixed online through Color Mixer platform of Color Designer (https://colordesigner.io/color-mixer). Grey colour represents the occurrence of the species in all seasons. All other colours were selected from the RGB scheme for it provides a wider range of colours. These colours were selected in such a way that they represent the correponding activity, for example, brown for mud puddling, honey colour (orange palette) for nectaring, amber colour for tree sap feeding etc., except basking which is represented by magenta.

Table 2.

Colour scheme for colour barcodes with CMYK and RGB ratios and HEX numbers.

Colour CMYK Ratio (C:M:Y:K) RGB Ratio (R:G:B) HEX Colour Name
Seasons Summer 0:100:100:0 227:30:36 #E31E24 Red
Monsoon 100:0:100:0 0:152:70 #009846 Green
Winter 100:100:0:0 57:49:133 #393185 Indigo
Summer+Monsoon 9:24:100:46 151:126:22 #977E16 Tan
Summer+Winter 24:100:2:13 175:0:113 #AF0071 Purple
Monsoon+Winter 86:36:9:20 0:115:162 #0073A2 Teal
Summer+Monsoon+Winter 47:38:38:24 128:128:128 #808080 Grey (50% Black)
Mud Puddling 19:52:85:37 153:102:51 #996633 Brown
Basking 57:100:0:0 153:0:153 #990099 Magenta
Feeding Nectaring 0:45:10:4 235:150:5 #EB9605 Honey (Orange)
Tree Sap 0:28:98:0 255:191:0 #FFBF00 Amber
Animal Carcass 11:99:100:50 121:06:04 #790604 Kryon Cherry Red
Animal Waste 3:0:93:0 255:255:0 #FFFF00 Yellow
Bird Droppings 95:95:45:95 0:00:00 #000000 Black
Rotten fruits 17:56:48:12 193:123:113 #C17B71 Rose Brown

Results

Species Richness

The SAC gained a plateau and standard deviation for species richness declined from 97.75 ± 17.07 to 141.0 ± 0.0 as the number of sights increased from one to eight, predicting sufficient efforts to record all the species found in the area (Asym = 146.42, xmid = 0.58, slope = 3.60) (Fig. 2). A total of 140 species belonging to six families have been observed and identified during the entire period of the study (Fig. 3, Table 3). The family Lycaenidae with 46 species (32.86%), followed by Nymphalidae with 43 species (31.43%), were amongst the most species-rich families in the area. Species belonging to the family Hesperiidae (25 species), Pieridae (14 species) and Papilionidae (10 species) were amongst other common species found in the area. The range of Cheritra freja (Common Imperial) which was earlier recorded from Amboli, Sindhudurga, Maharashtra (15.9647°N, 74.0036°E) (Saji and Ogale 2020) is extended further north around 345 km linear distance (calculated on https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/gccalc.shtml). The family Riodinidae was represented by only one species namely, Abisara bifasciata (Double Banded Judy).

Table 3.

List of butterflies of Matheran. Numeric codes of sites correspond to Table 1. Colour codes of season/s correspond to Table 2. VC- Very Common, C- Common, NC - Not Common, R - Rare, VR - Very Rare. Presence = 1; Absence = 0.

Common Name

Scientific Name

Season

Local Status

Study Sites

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Family: Hesperiidae (N = 25)

Vindhyan Bob

Arnetta vindhiana

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Brown Awl

Badamia exclamationis

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Orange-Tailed Awlet

Bibasis sena

Monsoon

VR

0

0

1

0

1

1

0

0

Orange Awlet

Burara jaina

Monsoon

VR

0

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Blank Swift

Caltoris kumara

Monsoon

VC

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Golden Angle

Caprona ransonnetii

All

C

1

0

1

1

1

0

1

0

Malabar Flat

Celaenorrhinus ambareesa

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Spotted Flat

Celaenorrhinus leucocera

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Tamil Spotted Flat

Celaenorrhinus ruficornis

Monsoon

VR

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

Tricolor Pied Flat

Coladenia indrani

Monsoon+Winter

VC

1

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Awl

Hasora badra

Winter

NC

0

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

Common Banded Awl

Hasora chromus

All

VC

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Plain Banded Awl

Hasora vitta

Monsoon

VR

0

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Chestnut Bob

Iambrix salsala

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Redeye

Matapa aria

Monsoon+Winter

R

1

0

1

1

0

1

0

0

Conjoined Swift

Pelopidas conjuncta

Monsoon

VC

1

1

1

1

0

1

1

1

Variable Swift

Pelopidas mathias

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

0

1

1

0

1

0

0

Common Small Flat

Sarangesa dasahara

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Spotted Small Flat

Sarangesa purendra

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Indian Skipper

Spialia galba

Monsoon

C

0

0

1

0

0

1

1

1

Indian Palm Bob

Suastus gremius

Winter

C

0

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

Black Angle

Tapena thwaitesi

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

0

1

1

1

1

1

0

Tamil Grass Dart

Taractrocera ceramas

Summer+Monsoon

VC

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Dark Palm Dart

Telicota bambusae

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Grass Demon

Udaspes folus

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

0

1

1

0

1

1

0

Family: Lycaenidae (N = 46)

Common Hedge Blue

Acytolepis puspa

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

Purple Leaf Blue

Amblypodia anita

Summer+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Pointed Ciliate Blue

Anthene lycaenina

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

1

Large Oakblue

Arhopala amantes

Winter

VR

1

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

Centaur Oakblue

Arhopala centaurus

Winter

VR

1

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

Angled Pierrot

Caleta decidia

All

VC

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

Common Pierrot

Castalius rosimon

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

Forgetmenot

Catochrysops strabo

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Imperial

Cheritra freja

Monsoon+Winter

VR

0

0

0

1

1

1

1

0

Lime Blue

Chilades lajus

Summer+Winter

NC

1

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

Orchid Tit

Chliaria othona

Winter

VR

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Angled Sunbeam

Curetis dentata

Summer+Winter

C

1

0

0

1

1

0

1

0

Indian Sunbeam

Curetis thetis

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Cornelian

Deudorix epijarbas

All

C

0

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

Gram Blue

Euchrysops cnejus

Summer+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Indian Cupid

Everes lacturnus

Summer+Winter

NC

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

Small Grass Jewel

Freyeria putli

Summer+Winter

C

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

1

Silverstreak Blue

Iraota timoleon

Summer+Winter

VC

1

0

1

1

1

1

0

0

Dark Cerulean

Jamides bochus

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Cerulean

Jamides celeno

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Peablue

Lampides boeticus

Winter

C

1

0

1

1

1

1

0

1

Zebra Blue

Leptotes plinius

Summer+Winter

C

1

0

1

1

1

0

1

1

Yamfly

Loxura atymnus

Monsoon+Winter

NC

0

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

Plains Cupid

Luthrodes pandava

Winter

C

1

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

Malayan

Megisba malaya

Winter

C

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

1

Opaque Six Lineblue

Nacaduba beroe

Summer+Winter

VC

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

Transparent Six Lineblue

Nacaduba kurava

Summer+Winter

VC

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

Dingy Lineblue

Petrelaea dana

Winter

C

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Tailless Lineblue

Prosotas dubiosa

Summer+Winter

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

Common Lineblue

Prosotas nora

Summer+Winter

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

Common Red Flash

Rapala iarbus

Summer+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

1

Slate Flash

Rapala manea

Summer+Winter

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

Indigo Flash

Rapala varuna

Summer+Winter

VC

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Monkey Puzzle

Rathinda amor

All

VC

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

Common Apefly

Spalgis epius

Winter

VR

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Long Banded Silverline

Spindasis lohita

Winter

NC

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

Common Silverline

Spindasis vulcanus

Summer

VR

0

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Common Acacia Blue

Surendra quercetorum

Monsoon

NC

0

0

1

1

1

1

1

0

Peacock Royal

Tajuria cippus

Winter

C

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

Red Pierrot

Talicada nyseus

Summer+Winter

C

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

Dark Pierrot

Tarucus ananda

Winter

VR

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Common Guava Blue

Virachola isocrates

All

C

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

Large Guava Blue

Virachola perse

All

VC

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

Dark Grass Blue

Zizeeria karsandra

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Lesser Grass Blue

Zizina otis

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Tiny Grass Blue

Zizula hylax

Summer+Winter

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Family: Nymphalidae (N = 44)

Angled Castor

Ariadne ariadne

All

C

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Castor

Ariadne merione

All

NC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Color Sergeant

Athyma inara

Winter

VR

1

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

Common Sergeant

Athyma perius

Winter

VR

1

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

Tawny Rajah

Charaxes psaphon

Winter

R

1

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

Black Rajah

Charaxes solon

Winter

NC

1

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

Rustic

Cupha erymanthis

Monsoon+Winter

VR

1

0

1

0

1

1

1

0

Common Map

Cyrestis thyodamas

Summer+Winter

NC

1

0

1

0

1

1

1

1

Plain Tiger

Danaus chrysippus

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Striped Tiger

Danaus genutia

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Crow

Euploea core

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Brown King Crow

Euploea klugii

Summer+Winter

R

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

Double Branded Crow

Euploea sylvester

Summer

VR

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Common Baron

Euthalia aconthea

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

1

Gaudy Baron

Euthalia lubentina

Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

1

Great Eggfly

Hypolimnas bolina

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Danaid Eggfly

Hypolimnas misippus

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Peacock Pansy

Junonia almana

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Grey Pansy

Junonia atlites

Summer

NC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Chocolate Pansy

Junonia iphita

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Lemon Pansy

Junonia lemonias

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Blue Oakleaf

Kallima horsfieldii

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

Bamboo Treebrown

Lethe europa

All

NC

0

1

1

0

1

1

1

0

Common Treebrown

Lethe rohria

All

VC

0

1

1

0

1

1

1

1

Club Beak

Libythea myrrha

Winter

NC

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

Common Evening Brown

Melanitis leda

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Commander

Moduza procris

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Dark Brand Bushbrown

Mycalesis mineus

Monsoon+Winter

NC

1

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Common Bushbrown

Mycalesis perseus

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Long Brand Bushbrown

Mycalesis visala

Monsoon+Winter

VC

1

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Common Sailer

Neptis hylas

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Chestnut Streaked Sailer

Neptis jumbah

Winter

C

1

1

1

0

1

0

0

1

Glassy Tiger

Parantica aglea

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Short Banded Sailer

Phaedyma columella

Winter

NC

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Common Leopard

Phalanta phalantha

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Cryptic Nawab

Polyura bharata

Winter

R

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

Black Prince

Rohana parisatis

Summer+Winter

C

1

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

Baronet

Symphaedra nais

Summer+Winter

NC

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

Grey Count

Tanaecia lepidea

Monsoon+Winter

R

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

Blue Tiger

Tirumala limniace

Monsoon

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Dark Blue Tiger

Tirumala septentrionis

Summer+Winter

R

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

All

C

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Fivering

Ypthima baldus

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Fourring

Ypthima huebneri

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Family: Papilionidae (N = 10)

Tailed Jay

Graphium agamemnon

Monsoon

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Jay

Graphium doson

Summer+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

1

Bluebottle

Graphium teredon

Winter

C

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

Common Rose

Pachliopta aristolochiae

Winter

R

0

1

0

1

1

0

1

0

Crimson Rose

Pachliopta hector

Winter

R

0

1

1

1

1

0

1

0

Common Mime

Papilio clytia

Winter

NC

1

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

Lime

Papilio demoleus

Summer+Winter

NC

0

1

1

1

1

0

1

1

Red Helen

Papilio helenus

Summer+Monsoon

R

0

0

1

0

1

1

1

0

Blue Mormon

Papilio polymnestor

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Mormon

Papilio polytes

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Family: Pieridae (N = 14)

Common Albatross

Appias albina

Summer+Winter

R

0

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Plain Pufin

Appias indra

Winter

VR

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Striped Albatross

Appias libythea

Winter

R

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

Common Emigrant

Catopsilia pomona

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Mottled Emigrant

Catopsilia pyranthe

Winter

NC

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Common Gull

Cepora nerissa

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Jezebel

Delias eucharis

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Grass Yellow

Eurema hecabe

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

1

Spotless Grass Yellow

Eurema laeta

Summer+Winter

NC

1

0

1

1

1

0

1

0

Great Orange Tip

Hebomoia glaucippe

All

NC

1

1

1

0

1

1

1

0

White Orange Tip

Ixias marianne

Summer+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

0

Yellow Orange Tip

Ixias pyrene

Summer+Winter

C

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

0

Psyche

Leptosia nina

All

C

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Common Wanderer

Pareronia hippia

All

VC

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

Family: Riodinidae (N = 1)

Double Banded Judy

Abisara bifasciata

Monsoon+Winter

C

1

0

1

1

1

1

0

0

Figure 2.  

Species Accumulation Curve (SAC) with asymptote model. Dark blue line indicates the expected (mean) species richness; shaded area denotes the standard deviation (Asym = 146.42, xmid = 0.58, slope = 3.60).

Figure 3.  

Family-wise species composition pie of butterflies of Matheran.

Seasonal turnover

The maximum numbers of species (N = 125) were recorded during winter, while minimum numbers of species (N = 80) were recorded during the monsoon (Fig. 4). Maximum numbers of species for all the families were recorded during winter, except the family Hesperiidae for which the maximum numbers of species (N = 23) were recorded during the monsoon (Fig. 5). The species of the family Lycaenidae dominated the local butterfly species richness during the months of summer and winter with 36.05% (N = 31) and 34.40% (N = 43) of total species of butterflies recorded during respective seasons (Fig. 6). Members of the family Nymphalidae shared fairly equal percentages during all seasons. The percentage of the papilionids was the lowest during all seasons.

Figure 4.  

Seasonal variations in species richness.

Figure 5.  

Family-wise percent species richness per season.

Figure 6.  

Season-wise percent species richness per family.

Spatial turnover

Members of the family Nymphalidae and Lycaenidae dominated the species diversity at all the sites studied in and around Matheran. Members of the family Lycaenidae were particularly present in higher numbers at Charlotte Lake while those of Hesperiidae were particularly present in higher numbers at Garbett Point (Fig. 7). The Similarity-Richness difference-Species replacement simplex for all the families indicated high similarity, although with different patterns tending towards perfect nestedness (Fig. 8a-e, Suppl. material 1). Similarity was the highest for the family Nymphalidae (70.58%) with 78.22% of relativised strict nestedness (nestedness without considering the effect of species replacement) and lowest relativised beta diversity of 29.42%. Relativised strict nestedness was the highest (85.67%) for the family Hesperiidae with a similarity of 65.91% and beta diversity of 34.10%, while relativised nestedness (nestedness considering the effect of species replacement) was the highest (93.56%) for the family Pieridae. Similarity of species composition between the sites was the lowest (49.10%) for the family Lycaenidae with the highest relativised richness difference (31.99%) indicating more site specific species composition for the members of the family Lycaenidae, unlike the members of other families.

Figure 7.  

Site-wise percent species richness for each family

Figure 8.  

Similarity-Richness difference-Species replacement simplex plot for a. Hesperiidae; b. Lycaenidae; c. Nymphalidae; d. Papilionidae; e. Pieridae. S - Species Shared (Similarity); D - Richness difference; R - Species replacement. Squares indicate true simplex scores for each pairs of sites (N = 28 for 8 sites).

Activity of butterflies

No seasonal activity pattern could be observed (Table 3, Table 4). Most of the species were observed while mud puddling, basking or feeding on the nectar. Other common activities included feeding on bird droppings, tree sap, animal waste (other than that of birds) and/or animal carcasses.

Table 4.

Activity chart for butterflies of Matheran observed during the survey. Colour codes correspond to Table 2.

Scientific Name Mud Puddling Basking Feeding
Nectaring Tree Sap Carcass Animal Waste (other than that of birds) Bird Droppings Rotten Fruits
Family Hesperiidae
Arnetta vindhiana + + + + +
Badamia exclamationis + + + +
Bibasis sena +
Burara jaina + + + +
Caltoris kumara + +
Caprona ransonnetti + + + + +
Celaenorrhinus ambareesa + + + + +
Celaenorrhinus leucocera + +
Celaenorrhinus ruficornis + +
Coladenia indrani + + + + +
Hasora badra + + +
Hasora chromus + + + +
Hasora vitta +
Iambrix salsala + + +
Matapa aria + + +
Pelopidas conjuncta + + + +
Pelopidas mathias + + + +
Sarangesa dasahara + + + + +
Sarangesa purendra + + + + +
Spialia galba + + +
Suastus gremius + +
Tapena thwaitesi + + + + + + +
Taractrocera ceramas + + +
Telicota bambusae + + + +
Udaspes folus + + + + + +
Family Lycaenidae
Acytolepis puspa + + + + + + +
Amblypodia anita + + + + + +
Anthene lycaenina + + +
Arhopala amantes + + +
Arhopala centaurus + + +
Caleta decidia + + + + + +
Castalius rosimon + + + + + + +
Catochrysops strabo + + + + + +
Cheritra freja + +
Chilades lajus + + +
Chliaria othona + + +
Curetis dentata + + +
Curetis thetis + + +
Deudorix epijarbas + + + + +
Euchrysops cnejus + +
Everes lacturnus + + +
Freyeria putli + + +
Iraota timoleon + + + + + +
Jamides bochus + + + +
Jamides celeno + + + +
Lampides boeticus + + + + + + +
Leptotes plinius + + + + + +
Loxura atymnus + +
Luthrodes pandava + +
Megisba malaya + + +
Nacaduba beroe + +
Nacaduba kurava + +
Petrelaea dana + +
Prosotas dubiosa + + +
Prosotas nora + + +
Rapala iarbus + + +
Rapala manea + +
Rapala varuna + + +
Rathinda amor + + +
Spalgis epius + +
Spindasis lohita + + + +
Spindasis vulcanus + + + +
Surendra quercetorum + + +
Tajuria cippus + + + +
Talicada nyseus + + +
Tarucus ananda +
Virachola isocrates + + + + + + +
Virachola perse + + + + + + +
Zizeeria karsandra + + + +
Zizina otis + + + +
Zizula hylax + + + +
Family Nymphalidae
Ariadne ariadne + + +
Ariadne merione + + +
Athyma inara + +
Athyma perius + +
Charaxes psaphon + + + + + +
Charaxes solon + + + + + +
Cupha erymanthis + + +
Cyrestis thyodamas + + +
Danaus chrysippus + + +
Danaus genutia + + +
Euploea core + + +
Euploea klugii + + +
Euploea sylvester + + +
Euthalia aconthea + + + + + + + +
Euthalia lubentina + + + + + + + +
Hypolimnas bolina + + + + + + +
Hypolimnas misippus + + + + + + +
Junonia almana + + + +
Junonia atlites + + +
Junonia iphita + + + + +
Junonia lemonias + + + +
Kallima horsfieldii + + + + + +
Lethe europa + + +
Lethe rohria + + +
Libythea myrrha + +
Melanitis leda + + +
Moduza procris + + + + + + +
Mycalesis mineus + + + + + +
Mycalesis perseus + + + + + +
Mycalesis visala + + + + + +
Neptis hylas + + + + +
Neptis jumbah + + + + +
Parantica aglea + + +
Phaedyma columella + + + + +
Phalanta phalantha + + + + + +
Polyura bharata + + + + + +
Rohana parisatis + + + +
Symphaedra nais + + + + + +
Tanaecia lepidea + + + + + + +
Tirumala limniace + + +
Tirumala septentrionis + + +
Vanessa cardui + + + +
Ypthima baldus + + +
Ypthima huebneri + + +
Family Papilionidae
Graphium agamemnon + + + + +
Graphium doson + + + +
Graphium teredon + + + +
Pachliopta aristolochiae + +
Pachliopta hector + +
Papilio clytia + +
Papilio demoleus + + +
Papilio helenus + + +
Papilio polymnestor + + +
Papilio polytes + + +
Family Pieridae
Appias albina + + +
Appias indra + + +
Appias libythea + + +
Catopsilia pomona + +
Catopsilia pyranthe + +
Cepora nerissa + + +
Delias eucharis + +
Eurema hecabe + + +
Eurema laeta + + +
Hebomoia glaucippe + + +
Ixias marianne + +
Ixias pyrene + +
Leptosia nina +
Pareronia hippia + + +
Family Riodinidae
Abisara bifasciata + +

Locally rare and scheduled species

Our list contains 15 such species which are scheduled under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of India (Table 5). Out of these, seven species were found rarely during the survey. Additionally, 20 species, which are not scheduled under the act, were observed rarely or very rarely during the survey (Figs 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

Table 5.

List of scheduled species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, India.

S r. No.

Common Name

Scientific Name

Schedule (Part)

1

Orange-tailed awlet

Bibasis sena

2 (2)

2

Plain Banded Awl

Hasora vitta

4

3

Striped Albatross

Appias libythea

4

4

Plain Puffin

Appias indra

2 (2)

5

Crimson Rose

Pachliopta hector

1 (4)

6

Long Banded Silverline

Spindasis lohita

2 (2)

7

Dark Pierrot

Tarucus ananda

4

8

Gram Blue

Euchrysops cnejus

2 (2)

9

Lime blue

Chilades lajus

2

10

Peacock Royal

Tajuria cippus

2 (2)

11

Orchid Tit

Chliaria othona

1 (4)

12

Indigo Flash

Rapala varuna

2 (2)

13

Gaudy Baron

Euthalia lubentina

4

14

Grey Count

Tanaecia lepidea

2 (2)

15

Danaid Eggfly

Hypolimnas misippus

1

Figure 9.

Family Hesperiidae (a-e) and Family Lycaenidae (f). Colour barcodes depict season and activity of the species. Colour codes correspond to Table 2. Photo Credits: Gargi Geedh (a); Mandar Sawant & Sagar Sarang (b-f).

aBibasis sena  
bBurara jaina  
cCelenorrhinus ruficornis  
dHasora vitta (inverted image)  
eMatapa aria  
fArhopala amantes  
Figure 10.

Family Lycaenidae. Colour barcodes depict season and activity of the species. Colour codes correspond to Table 2. Photo Credits: Mandar Sawant & Sagar Sarang.

aArhopala centaurus  
bCheritra freja  
cChliaria othona  
dSpalgis epius  
eSpindasis vulcanus  
fTarucus ananda  
Figure 11.

Family Nymphalidae. Colour barcodes depict season and activity of the species. Colour codes correspond to Table 2. Photo credits: Mandar Sawant & Sagar Sarang.

aAthyma inara  
bAthyma perius  
cCharaxes psaphon  
dCupha erymanthis  
eEuploea klugii  
fEuploea sylvester  
Figure 12.

Family Nymphalidae. Colour barcodes depict season and activity of the species. Colour codes correspond to Table 2. Photo credits: Mandar Sawant & Sagar Sarang.

aPolyura bharata  
bTanaecia lepidea  
cTirumala septentrionis  
Figure 13.

Family Papilionidae (a-c) and Family Pieridae (d-f); (a) Pachliopta aristolochiae (Photo credit: Tejas Mehendale); (b) Pachliopta hector (Photo credit: Abhinav Nair); (c) Papilio helenus; (d) Appias albina; (e) Appias indra; (f) Appias libythea;. Colour barcodes depict season and activity of the species. Colour codes correspond to Table 2. Photo Credits: Tejas Mehendale (a); Abhinav Nair (b); Mandar Sawant & Sagar Sarang (c-f).

aPachliopta aristolochiae  
bPachliopta hector  
cPapilio helenus  
dAppias albina  
eAppias indra  
fAppias libythea  

Identification remarks for locally rare or very rare butterflies

Abbreviations: FW-Forewing, HW-Hindwing, UN-Underside, UNF-Underside of Forewing, UNH-Underside of Hindwing, UP- Upperside, UPF-Upperside of Forewing, UPH-Upperside of Hindwing

Family Hesperiidae Latreille, 1809

Genus Bibasis Moore, 1881

Bibasis sena (Moore, 1865) (Fig. 9a).

Common name: Orange-tailed awlet.

Identification remarks: Bright orange fringe on HW and on the tip of the abdomen. Broad, pure white, outwardly diffused, central band on UN. Wingspan 42–50 mm.

Season: Monsoon.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Genus Burara Swinhoe, 1893

Burara jaina (Moore, 1865) (Fig. 9b).

Common name: Orange awlet.

Identification remarks: UN pale brown. UNH with orange stripes along veins and has orange fringe. UNF purplish. Wingspan 60–70 mm.

Season: Monsoon.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Genus Celaenorrhinus Hübner, 1819

Celaenorrhinus ruficornis Hampson, 1889 (Fig. 9c).

Common name: Tamil spotted flat.

Identification remarks: Similar to common spotted flat, but UPF has semi-transparent white spots separated from each other. Markings on UPH indistinct or absent. Antennae chequered, club white in male, white at base only in female. Wingspan 45–50 mm.

Season: Monsoon.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Genus Hasora Moore, 1881

Hasora vitta (Butler, 1870) (Fig. 9d).

Common name: Plain banded awl.

Identification remarks: Outwardly diffused broad white or bluish-white band on UNH. Female has an additional spot on UPF. UN paler, inner half has greenish gloss. Wingspan 45–55 mm.

Season: Monsoon.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Genus Matapa Moore, 1881

Matapa aria (Moore, 1865) (Fig. 9e).

Common name: Common Redeye.

Identification remarks: Dark buff-brown with no markings on UP. HW has greyish fringe tinged with pale yellow. UN more yellowish orange-brown. Indistinct black brand on UPF of male. Wingspan 40–55 mm.

Season: Monsoon and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Family Lycaenidae Leach, 1815

Genus Arhopala Boisduval, 1832

Arhopala amantes (Hewitson, 1862) (Fig. 9f).

Common name: Large oakblue.

Identification remarks: Tailed with lobe. UNH has central squarish spots in spaces 4 and 5 at right angles. Metallic scales at UNH lower tip. Wingspan 45–57 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or feeding on rotten fruits.

Arhopala centaurus (Fabricius, 1775) (Fig. 10a).

Common name: Centaur oakblue.

Identification remarks: HW tailed. No HW lobe. Metallic scaling on UNH faint or absent. UNF band continuous and curved. UNF cell spots outlined by silver lines. Male UP brilliant violet-blue, narrow dark borders. Females UP paler blue, broad wing borders. Wingspan 53–62 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or feeding on rotten fruits.

Genus Cheritra Moore, 1881

Cheritra freja (Fabricius 1793) (Fig. 10b).

Common name: Common Imperial.

Identification remarks: Two tails. UN of both sexes white to pale brown; faint bars at cell-ends. Narrow dark outer central line on UNF. UNH with outer central and marginal lines and black spots crowned with metallic scales at lower tip. Wingspan 38–42 mm.

Season: Monsoon and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while basking or nectaring.

Genus Chliaria Moore, 1884

Chliaria othona (Hewitson, 1865) (Fig. 10c).

Common name: Orchid Tit.

Identification remarks: Two tails. UN white, faint cell-end bars, black-edged brown markings. UNF band upper part wider than the lower part. UNH central band broken twice; prominent black spot near base. Wingspan 24–27 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or nectaring.

Genus Spalgis Moore, 1879

Spalgis epius (Westwood, 1851).

Common name: Apefly (Fig. 10d).

Identification remarks: HW Tailless. UN with several fine wavy vertical lines. Male FW has acute apex and straight outer edge. Female has rounded outer edge. Caterpillars feed on mealy bugs. Wingspan 20–30 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while feeding on bird droppings.

Genus Spindasis Donzel, 1847

Spindasis vulcanus (Fabricius, 1775) (Fig. 10e).

Common name: Common silverline.

Identification remarks: Two tails, one lobe on HW. UN light yellow, black or brown bordered brilliant reddish bands with central silver lines. Separate spots at base of UNH and outer basal band of spots does not extend downwards to first costal vein. Orange-crowned black spot on UNH lobe. Female larger than male and with more rounded FW. Wingspan 26–34 mm.

Season: Summer.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in plains and undulating terrains while either mud puddling, basking, nectaring or feeding on carcass.

Genus Tarucus Moore, 1881

Tarucus ananda (de Nicéville, 1884) (Fig. 10f).

Common name: Dark Pierrot.

Identification remarks: HW Tailed. Resembles Assam Pierrot, differs in having the central spot in space 5 joined to the band of spots near margin on UN. Wingspan 22–28 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling.

Family Nymphalidae Rafinesque, 1815

Genus Athyma Westwood, 1850

Athyma inara Westwood, 1850 (Fig. 11a).

Common name: Colour sergeant.

Identification remarks: UP dark brown with very broad orange bands. In male, UP velvety black with a white band and orange markings. UPF white band continues on UPH. Orange markings on UPF apex. UPH with orange band near outer edge. Wingspan 55–70 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling or basking.

Athyma perius (Linnaeus, 1758) (Fig. 11b)

Common name: Common sergeant.

Identification remarks: A prominent row of black spots always towards the inner edge of the white band on both sides of HW. UPF white cell streak divided into four parts. Wingspan 60–70 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling or basking.

Genus Charaxes Ochsenheimer, 1816

Charaxes psaphon Westwood, 1847 (Fig. 11c).

Common name: Plain Tawny Rajah.

Identification remarks: Male UN tawny with purple gloss. UPF tawny, broad black terminal border. UPH black terminal broad near apex. Female UN tawny with broad pale central band. UPH tawny with broad black terminal border and central white band. Wingspan 85–110 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling or basking, feeding on nectar, animal waste or carcasses.

Genus Cupha Billberg, 1820

Cupha erymanthis (Drury, 1773) (Fig. 11d).

Common name: Rustic.

Identification remarks: Basal area of UPF reddish-brown, a broad yellow or white central band and broad black apex. Two darker marginal lines of crescents on UPH. Sexes similar. Wingspan 50–60 mm.

Season: Monsoon and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or nectaring.

Genus Euploea Fabricius, 1807

Euploea klugii Moore, 1858 (Fig. 11e).

Common name: Brown king crow.

Identification remarks: Similar to Common Crow, but UN of either wing has no spots. All wings bordered with series of marginal and sub-marginal white spots. Male has a short, oval, dark band on UPF. UPH has greyish scales on apical half and pale-yellow scent scales patch. Wingspan 85–100 mm.

Season: Summer and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or nectaring.

Euploea sylvester (Fabricius, 1793) (Fig. 11f).

Common name: Double branded crow.

Identification remarks: Similar to Common Crow, but male has two parallel brands on UPF; female has two similar faint streaks near inner edge on UPF. Wingspan 95–105 mm.

Season: Summer.

Habitat: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or nectaring.

Genus Polyura

Polyura bharata Drury, 1773.

Common name: Cryptic Nawab (Fig. 12a).

Identification remarks: Pale greenish-yellow, wide central band on both sides. Large pale green spot near FW apex on both sides. Wingspan 60–75 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling or basking, feeding on tree sap, animal waste or carcasses.

Genus Tanaecia Butler, 1869

Tanaecia lepidea (Butler, 1868) (Fig. 12b).

Common name: Grey Count.

Identification remarks: UP dark brown with pale grey border. Border broad on HW and narrow on FW, ending before apex. FW apex produced and outer edge incurved. Female, larger and duller coloured than male, with extra pale brown markings. Wingspan 65–85 mm.

Season: Monsoon and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was found at forest edges while mud puddling or basking or feeding on tree sap, carcasses, animal waste, bird droppings or rotten fruits.

Genus Tirumala Moore, 1880

Tirumala septentrionis (Butler, 1874) (Fig. 12c).

Common name: Dark Blue Tiger.

Identification remarks: Similar to Blue Tiger, but markings narrower and darker. UNH has a long V-shaped pale blue marking in the cell. UN darker than Blue Tiger. Male UNH has scent scales pouch. Wingspan 75–95 mm.

Season: Summer and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while mud puddling, basking or nectaring.

Family Papilionidae Latreille, 1802

Genus Pachliopta Reakirt, 1865

Pachliopta aristolochiae (Fabricius, 1775) (Fig. 13a).

Common name: Common Rose.

Identification remarks: HW tailed. UNF black with pale greyish stripes between veins. UNH has large white patch of five elongate spots around end-cell, series of bright red or brownish-red spots on outer edge. Body red. Wingspan 80–110 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed at forests edges, scrubs and in grasslands while nectaring.

Pachliopta hector (Linnaeus, 1758) (Fig. 13b).

Common name: Crimson rose.

Identification remarks: HW tailed. Markings on both sides similar. Body bright crimson. Female duller, with larger crimson crescents and spots on HW. Wingspan 90–110 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed at forests edges, scrubs and in grasslands while nectaring.

Genus Papilio Linnaeus, 1758

Papilio helenus Linnaeus, 1758 (Fig. 13c).

Common name: Red Helen.

Identification remarks: UPH with patch of three creamy white spots. UPH may have marginal series of indistinct red crescents. Wingspan 110–130 mm.

Season: Summer and monsoon.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Family Pieridae Swainson, 1820

Genus Appias Hübner, 1819

Appias albina (Boisduval, 1836) (Fig. 13d).

Common name: Common Albatross.

Identification remarks: Male UPF with dark dusting in apical area and along outer edge, but may be absent. No dark spot on UPF. Pale dull yellow UNH unmarked. Seasonal variation seen in both sexes. In female, UPF apex, leading edge and outer edge bordered with black with four to five white spots near apex. No cell spot. UPH has toothed black border. Wingspan 60–75 mm.

Season: Monsoon and winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Appias indra Moore, 1857 (Fig. 13e)

Common name: Plain Puffin

Identification remarks: Male UPF white with apical, outer and leading (half) edges black with two to five apical white spots. Males of northern population have complete row of four or five apical spots on UPF. UPF has black area along outer edge which extends inwards. In female, UPF black, with central white patch and two white spots at apex. UPH with black outer half and dusky grey or white basal half. UNF with broad dark band from leading edge to outer edge. UNH variable. Wingspan 60–70 mm.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed in forested patches while nectaring.

Appias libythea Fabricius, 1775 (Fig. 13f).

Common name: Striped Albatross.

Identification remarks: Female DSF white, UPF apex and outer edge broadly black and unspotted, leading edge broadly blackened from base to bar at end-cell. UPH with black spots along outer edge. Female WSF much darker, UN white with diffused greyish-brown markings.

Season: Winter.

Habitat and activity: The species was observed at forests edges, scrubs and in grasslands while nectaring.

Discussion

Species Richness

Betham (1894) had hoped that someone from Bombay (= Mumbai) would add to his list of 78 butterflies, quoting the fact that there must be many species which still could be obtained from Matheran. It is our honour to fulfil his wish and almost double the list of available butterflies at Matheran 125 years after his publication. Sixty three species of those recorded by us are common to the checklists of Smith (1882), Betham (1894) and Padhye et al. (2013) (Table 6). All the other 77 species are recorded for the first time from the region. Fifteen species recorded by Smith (1882) and three species recorded by Betham (1894) were not recorded during this study (Table 6). Seventeen species were recorded by Smith (1882) and us, but not by Betham (1894), while the same numbers of species were recorded by Betham (1894) and us, but not by Smith (1882). Our list contains all the species recorded by Padhye et al. (2013). Five specific names from Smith (1882) and Betham (1894) could not be traced and are mentioned as ‘Not Found’ in Table 6.

Table 6.

List of the butterfly species of Matheran common between Smith (1882), Betham (1894), Padhye et al. (2013) and the current study.

Accepted Name

Smith (1882)

Betham (1894)

Padhye et al. (2013)

Our list

Remarks

Abisara echerius Abisara suffusa

Acytolepis puspa

Cyaniris puspa

Acytolepis puspa

Anthene lycaenina

Anthene lycaenina

Anthene lycaenina

Appias albina

Huphina albina

Appias albina

A doubtful generic allocation by Smith (1882)

Appias paulina

Catophaga paulina

Ariadne ariadne

Ergolis ariadne

Ergolis ariadne

Ariadne ariadne

Ariadne merione

Ariadne merione

Ariadne merione

Athyma perius

Athyma perius

Athyma perius

Athyma perius

Badamia exclamationis

Badamia exclamationis

Badamia exclamationis

Belenois aurota

Belenois mesentina

Bibasis sena

Bibasis sena

Bibasis sena

Byblia ilithyia

Byblia ilithyia

Caleta roxus

Castalius roxus

Castalius rosimon

Castalius rosimon

Castalius rosimon

Castalius rosimon

Catopsilia pomona

Catopsilia hilaria

Catopsilia catilia

Catopsilia pomona

Catopsilia pomona

Catopsilia pyranthe

Catopsilia phillipina

Catopsilia pyranthe

Catopsilia pyranthe

Celaenorrhinus ambareesa

Celenorrhinus ambareesa

Celaenorrhinus ambareesa

Cepora nerissa

Huphina phryne

Huphina phryne

Cepora nerissa

Charaxes psaphon

Charaxes imna

Charaxes psaphon

Cyrestis thyodamas

Cyrestis

Cyrestis thyodamas

Smith (1882) mentions only generic name. Possibly Cyrestis thyodamas

Danaus chrysippus

Danais chrysippus

Danais chrysippus

Danaus chryssipus

Erroneous generic name by Smith (1882) and Betham (1894)

Danaus genutia

Danais genutia

Danais genutia

Danaus genutia

Danaus genutia

Erroneous generic name by Smith (1882) and Betham (1894)

Delias eucharis

Delias eucharis

Delias eucharis

Deudorix epijarbas

Deudorix epijarbas

Deudorix epijarbas

Euchrysops cnejus

Catochrysops cnejus

Catochrysops cnejus

Euchrysops cnejus

Euploea core

Euploea core

Euploea core

Eurema brigitta

Eurema brigitta

Eurema hecabe

Terias hecabe

Eurema hecabe

Eurema hecabe

Graphium agamemnon

Papilio agamemnon

Graphium agamemnon

Graphium agamemnon

Graphium teredon

Papilio sarpedon

Graphium sarpedon

Graphium teredon

Hasora chromus

Parata chromus

Hasora chromus

Hebomoia glaucippe

Hebomia glaucippe

Hebomoia glaucippe

Erroneous generic name by Smith (1882)

Hypolimnas bolina

Hypolimnas bolina

Hypolimnas bolina

Hypolimnas bolina

Hypolimnas misippus

Hypolimnas misippus

Hypolimnas misippus

Hypolimnas misippus

Hypolimnas misippus

Iraota timoleon Iraota mecenas Iraota timoleon

Jamides bochus

Jamides bochus

Jamides bochus

Jamides celeno

Jamides celeno

Jamides celeno

Junonia almana

Junonia almana, v. asterie

Junonia almana

Junonia almana

Junonia iphita

Precis iphita

Junonia iphita

Junonia iphita

Junonia lemonias

Junonia lemonias

Junonia lemonias

Junonia lemonias

Junonia lemonias

Junonia oenone

Junonia oenone

Junonia oenone

Junonia orithyia

Junonia orithyia

Kallima horsfieldii

Kallima horsefieldii

Kallima horsefieldii

Kallima horsfieldii

Erroneous specific name in Smith (1882) and Betham (1894)

Leptosia nina

Leptosia xiphia

Leptosia nina

Leptotes plinius

Tarucus plinius

Tarucus plinius

Leptotes plinius

Lethe rohria

Lethe nilgheriensis

Lethe rohria

Luthrodes pandava Chilades pandava Luthrodes pandava

Matapa aria

Matapa aria

Matapa aria

Melanitis leda

Melanitis leda

Melanitis leda

Melanitis leda

Melanitis leda

Melanitis ismene

Melanitis ismene

Melanitis leda

Mycalesis mineus

Mycalesis mineus

Mycalesis mineus

Mycalesis perseus

Mycalesis perseus

Mycalesis perseus

Neptis hylas

Neptis varmona

Neptis varmona, v. eurymene

Neptis hylas

Neptis hylas

Neptis jumbah

Neptis jumbah

Neptis jumbah

Pachliopta aristolochiae

Pachiliopta aristolochae

Pachliopta aristolochiae

Erroneous generic and specific name in Padhye et al. (2013)

Pachliopta hector

Papilio hector

Pachliopta hector

Pachliopta hector

Papilio ambrax

Papilio epius

Papilio clytia form dissimilis

Papilio form dissimilis

Papilio clytia form dissimilis

Papilio clytia form clytia

Papilio form panope

Papilio clytia form clytia

Papilio clytia form clytia

Papilio deiphobus

Papilio deiophobus

This could be misidentification as the species is distributed in the Philippines, Moluccas and some parts of West Papua.

Papilio demoleus

Papilio demoleus

Papilio demoleus

Papilio iswara

Papilio iswara

This could be misidentification as the species is distributed over the Sundaland.

Papilio polymnestor

Papilio polymnestor

Papilio polymnestor

Papilio polymnestor

Papilio polymnestor

Papilio polytes

Papilio pammon

Papilio Polytes

Papilio Polytes

Papilio polytes

Parantica aglea

Danais aglea

Danais melanoides

Parantica aglea

Parantica aglea

Pareronia valeria

Eronia valeria

Pelopidas agna

Chapra agna

Pelopidas mathias

Chapra mathias

Pelopidas mathias

Phaedyma columella

Neptis ophiana

Phaedyma columella

Phalanta phalantha

Atella phalanta

Atella phalantha

Phalanta phalantha

Erroneous specific name by Smith (1882)

Polyura bharata

Charaxes athamas

Polyura bharata

Prosotas nora

Prosotas nora

Prosotas nora

Sarangesa purendra

Sarangesa purendra

Sarangesa purendra

Sarangesa purendra

Spialia galba

Hesperia galba

Spialia galba

Spindasis lohita

Aphneus lohita

Spindasis lohita

Tarucus theophrastus

Tarucus theophrastus

Tirumala limniace

Danais limniace

Danais limniace

Tirumala limniace

Tirumala limniace

Udaspes folus

Udaspes folus

Udaspes folus

Udaspes folus

Vanessa indica

Pyrameis indica

Ypthima philomela

Ypthima philomela

Ypthima philomela

Ypthima singala

Ypthima singala

Zeltus amasa

Zeltus etolus

Not found

Danais careta

Doubtful record by Smith (1882). Put ? by Betham (1894)

Not found

Poritia

Not found

Lampides elianus

Not found

Terias esiope

Not found

Isoteinon nilgheriensis

Monotypic genus contains Isoteinon lamprospilus

Seasonal Turnover

The butterfly diversity and distribution is known to be affected by seasons (Brower 1995, Kunte 2000, Tiple et al. 2009). This is especially true in the case of tropical butterflies which may experience extreme wet and dry seasons (Bonebrake et al. 2010). Further, it has also been observed in the case of southern Indian danaine butterflies that they avoid extreme wet and torrential monsoon conditions through longitudinal migration to drier areas (Kunte 2004). The highest number of butterflies in the winter (N = 125), observed during this survey, could be a result of the fact that winters have lower temperature, lower dampness and moderate water availability with no torrential precipitation in and around the study area. We also observe a dry season ‘pocket effect’ (similar to ‘ithomiine pocket’ observed by Vasconcellos-Neto (1991)) in butterflies of the genus Mycalesis, Lethe, Ypthima (Family Nymphalidae) and Celaenorrhinus, Taractrocera and Spialia (Family Hesperiidae). These butterflies could be observed in open areas on hill-tops and hill-slopes during monsoon and winter months, but their number becomes less in these areas during the months of summer when they could be observed in dark, shady habitats. We were, however, unable to determine the cause of the high number of hesperiid observations during the monsoon and this needs a detailed behavioural study.

Spatial Turnover

The patterns for the diversity of butterflies of Matheran are very similar to those of the California Channel Island Birds and Vanuatu Birds, mentioned by Podani and Schmera (2011). High overall similarity for the entire butterfly diversity (Suppl. material 2) and family-wise similarity between the sites (Fig. 8a-e) indicate the possibility of very stable diversity in the area with very low emigration to, or immigration from, surrounding areas. However, a detailed study from surrounding areas would be required to confirm this fact. The high overall similarity between the pairs of study sites (N = 28) also suggests a higher percentage of habitat generalist species surveyed in and around Matheran.

Colour coding

This novel approach is expected to improve the representation of the data for seasons and activities of the Indian butterflies. We encourage adding more activities and unique colour codes to make this system more universal, uniform and reader friendly. We also recommend its use while uploading records on open databases, such as Butterflies of India (Kunte et al. 2020) and iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/) for conveying information regarding the seasons and activities of butterflies.

Conclusions

A total of 140 species of butterflies belonging to six families were recorded from Matheran, India. This list includes 77 new records for Matheran. We observed a strong seasonal variation in butterfly diversity. The maximum diversity (N = 125) of butterflies was recorded during winter, while the least (N = 80) during monsoon. A high similarity of butterfly species composition was observed between the pairs of sites studied, tending towards perfect nestedness. This also emphasises the fact that the butterfly diversity in the region is quite stable and chances of emigration to, or immigration from, surrounding regions are very low. A strong seasonal gradient for activity patterns was not observed; however, we did observe a 'pocket effect' of dry season on butterflies. Butterflies during the dry season tend to aggregate near damp and shady places. Further, we introduce a novel barcode system for denoting seasons and activities of Indian butterflies and hope that this will help butterfly biologists to concisely and effectively present the data.

Acknowledgements

MS and NM thank Dr. Deepak Apte, the Director, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai; for his support and encouragement during this project. MS and SS are grateful to the people of Matheran for providing local support during the survey. We thank the Biodiversity Heritage Library for making rare old manuscripts readily available online. We are grateful to Dr. Thomas Vattakven and India Biodiversity Portal for helping us upload raw data of the project and providing the URL for citation. NM thanks Manas Modak for helping prepare the raw dataset in Darwin Core Format through his excellent skills of programming in java. NM thanks Shruti Paripatyadar for introducing him to SDR simplex and its uses. We thank Rohan Bhagat for helping us prepare the map of the study site. MS and SS also thank Abhinav Nair, Gargi Geedh and Tejas Mehendale for helping them variously. We thank reviewers and subject editor for their invaluable comments which helped improve the manuscript. We are grateful to the editorial board and the journal for providing a generous waiver on article processing charges upon our request. Finally, we thank our families for keeping up the working environment at home amidst these chaotic COVID-19 situations.

Author contributions

MS and SS conducted the field survey. NM did data analysis. MS, SS and NM conceptualised and developed the colour code. MS, SS and NM wrote the manuscript.

Conflicts of interest

Authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

Supplementary materials

Suppl. material 1: Percentage matrix fill and percentage contributions from the SDR-simplex analyses of family-wise and overall species richness. 
Authors:  Sawant, M., Sarang, S., Modak, N.
Data type:  Table
Suppl. material 2: Similarity-Richness difference-Species replacement simplex plot for overall butterfly diversity of Matheran showing high similarity. Points denote pair of sites (N = 28) 
Authors:  Sawant, M., Sarang, S., Modak, N.
Data type:  Image