Featured News Which butterfly is in your backyard?

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Fri, 29 Apr 2016

Which butterfly is in your backyard?

A James Cook University PhD student is conducting research on butterfly diversity within the Wet Tropics and needs your help.

Hemchandranauth Sambhu is preparing to conduct a butterfly survey over the next 12 months in the communities of Gordonvale, Edmonton, Freshwater, Redlynch, Yorkeys Knob, Smithfield, Trinity Park, Kewarra Beach, Mossman and possibly in other nearby communities.

The study is part of an ongoing PhD research project that aims to investigate the effects of land management practices on butterfly populations within two tropical locations—the Wet Tropics and a section of the coastline in Guyana, South America.

Mr Sambhu said in recent times, people in the Cairns region had increased efforts to maintain a healthy population of butterflies.

“People have been actively developing butterfly-friendly environments by planting host - and nectar - plants on their properties,” he said.

“Butterflies are also critical to the functioning of many ecosystems and provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including pollination, and providing a food source for other organisms.

“However, butterflies are threatened by human activities such as conversion of forests for food production, through intensive agriculture, and shelter, through urban settlements.”

Mr Sambhu said there needed to be a balance between these activities and biodiversity conservation. Monitoring populations of indicator groups such as butterflies may help achieve this, he said.

In the survey, data will be collected on butterfly abundance and diversity in three different land management practices: urban, agricultural (with a focus on cane farming areas), and forest.

Researchers will use baited traps (pictured below) that do not harm the butterflies.

The survey will also involve conducting semi-structured interviews with individuals from each community to try to get an idea of people’s knowledge and understanding of butterflies.

As well as the interviews, residents may want to share their knowledge about butterflies in their area, encourage others to not vandalise the traps along public pathways or allow for the traps to be set up on their property.


Mr Sambhu can be contacted on 0406 790 714 or email hemchandranauth.sambhu@my.jcu.edu.au.