Submitted to: Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2006
Publication Date: 5/21/2008
Citation: Brown, J.W., Epstein, M., Watkins, R., Bahr, S.M., Kolski, E. 2008. An overview of the lepidoptera (insecta) of Plummers Island, Maryland. Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington. 15:65-74. Interpretive Summary: The caterpillars of butterflies and moths cause billions of dollars in damage annually to forest, ornamental, and agricultural plants, and hence, many are considered economically important pests. In addition many species provide ecosystem services in native situations as pollinators of flowering plants and as food for birds, mammals, and other insects. In this paper we examine the entire moth and butterfly fauna of Plummers Island, Maryland, a small island in the Potomac River. The site is unique in that there is over 100 years of insect collecting information that can be used to examine changes in specific moth and butterfly groups. This information will be of interest to scientists involved in faunal surveys and inventories, resource agency personnel developing conservation and management strategies for natural lands, and APHIS and other agencies whose goal is to detect and monitor invasive species.
Technical Abstract: Based on the examination of approximately 8,000 specimens of Lepidoptera in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History and a review of relevant literature, we document 828 species in 488 genera and 48 families from Plummers Island, Maryland. Although Lepidoptera are probably the best studied insect order on Plummers Island, data from the region in general indicate that there likely are many more microlepidoptera and butterflies on the site that are yet to be documented. Most families that were sampled adequately both historically (1901-1920) and in recent years (1998-2005) show a reduction in species richness and considerable species turnover from 1901 to 2005. However, interpretation of these data are difficult owing to differences in sampling techniques and sampling frequency over the last 100 years.