Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?Altitudinal distribution pattern in butterflies is largely controlled by climatic factors and vegetation types. Some species occur in wide range of elevation, while some occur only in particular altitude, whereas some species do altitudinal migration. Barail hill range has elevation gradient from 28m to 3048 m. The present study try to identify the elevation zones where rare species occur which may help in conservation of the hill range.
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?The effort has been taken including both line transect and systematic surveys at the end of line transect and recording of species opportunistically. The forests trails were followed along the stream, through different habitats; and transect were laid following modified Pollard Walk (Pollard 1991) method. The entire elevation was divided into three zones: 20-110m, 300-1000 m, 1100m-2100m. The entire exercises have been carried out in two seasons: summer and winter.Whenever a new species of butterfly was encountered, photograph of both upper and underside of that species were taken as far as practicable. The following literature were consulted in this regard: Antram, C. B. (1924), Evans, W.H. (1932), Haribal, M. (1992), Kehimkar (2008), Talbot (1939, 1947), Moore (1890–1892, 1893–1896, 1896–1899, 1899–1900, 1901–1903, 1903–1905), Swinhoe (1905–1910, 1910–1911, 1911–1912, 1912–1913).
Results: What are your most important results?The highest number of species was recorded in low elevation (28-110 m) with 216 species than in higher elevation areas (1200m-2100 m) with 90 species. The mid-elevation (300-1100 m) areas were mostly mountain slopes and only 55 species were recorded from there. However, higher elevation area had more species with restricted distribution range. The elevation between 1200-1500 m was found to have endemic Naga Sapphire, Heliophorus kohimensis.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?With tremendous habitat loss today, the species are undergoing threat of extinction. Hence, there is need of proper management plan and identification of key areas where rare and endemic species occur. Butterflies being flagship taxa for invertebrate conservation can be taken as a model for identifying areas of conservation priority. The assessment in new ranges will help us to identify the key areas for butterfly conservation.