Butterflies are one of most requested groups for monitoring and conservation studies. The group is a major order with about 125,000 known species around the world. As is the case for Mexico which has a remarkable biological richness in all taxa, and butterflies are no exception. However, in some sites the studies of group are few as is the case of La Mancha.
The specific objectives of this study were: 1) determine the richness and diversity of the plant-butterfly interactions, 2) compare the richness and diversity of plant-butterfly interactions among vegetation types, and 3) analyze the general structure of plant-butterfly interaction network. The study was carried out on six vegetation types in La Mancha, Veracruz, Mexico. In each vegetation type we recorded the flower visits of butterflies in round plots with five meters in diameter. The sampling of butterflies were made monthly in all vegetation types during one year. We calculate the Shannon species diversity by vegetation type with identity and presence of butterflies; also, we determine the classical Jaccard similarity index among vegetation types. With frequency of plant-butterfly interactions at each vegetation type we calculated the Shannon diversity index. We calculate nestedness and species level estimations of interactions network.
We found 123 species of butterflies belonging to 11 families, and 79 genera (only from identified species). The families with highest species number were Hesperiidae (46 species), followed by Nymphalidae (28 species), and Pieridae (14 species). Vegetation type with highest species number were pioneer dune vegetation (PDV; 75 species), followed by coastal dune scrub (CDS) and tropical deciduous forest and wetland (TDF-W; both 51 species). Vegetation with highest species diversity was PDV (Shannon_H’=4.317) followed by CDS, and TDF-W (both, Shannon_H’=3.932), similarly happened with interactions diversity. Vegetation types with more similarity according to Classical Jaccard Index were PDV with CDS (Jclassical=0.416) and PDV with TDF (Jclassical=0.371). The plant-butterfly was a nested network with one module. Ascia monuste, Euptoieta hegesia and Phoebis sennae were most generalist butterfly species in the network, while Horama oedippus, E. hegesia, and P. sennae were the species with highest dependencies by plant species. Bidens pilosa, Lantana camara, and Ageratum corymbosum were most generalist plants, while B. pilosa, L. camara, and Cordia spinesces were the species with highest dependencies by butterfly species. In conclusion La Mancha is an area with a high importance for butterflies diversity and its interactions with flowering plants.