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Document Type

Peer-Review Article

Abstract

Eastern hemlock, (Tsuga canadensis Carrière, Pinaceae), is threatened with extirpation by an exotic invasive herbivore, the hemlock woolly adelgid, (Adelges tsugae Annand, Homoptera: Adelgidae). Given this threat, a broader and more detailed knowledge of the community associated with eastern hem- lock is merited. As Lepidoptera are important members of forest communities, this study was initiated to determine the relative occurrence of Lepidoptera in hemlock-dominated and deciduous-dominated habitats by evaluating abundance, species richness, temporal variation, and composition overlap. Lepidoptera were surveyed using blacklight traps from May – August 2010 at two collection sites in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky. The first collection site was within a forest stand dominated by mixed deciduous species, the second site possessed an overstory of eastern hemlock. Lepidoptera ≥ 20 mm in wingspan were identified and enumerated, yielding a total of 1,020 individuals of ≥ 137 species and 18 families. The total number of Lepidoptera captured in May and June was fewer than in July and August (P ≤ 0.05). The composition of the assemblage varied between collection sites as well as seasonally; 85 species were identified at the deciduous site and 107 species were identified at the hemlock site. While 27 species were recorded only at the deciduous site, 49 species were unique to the hemlock site. Of those unique to the hemlock site, five species were either detritivores or conifer specialists. These data demonstrate the importance of both deciduous and hemlock-dominated forest habitats for many species of Lepidoptera in Appalachia. Our study forms a foundation for understanding species richness patterns of Lepidoptera in hemlock forests in North America and is a useful baseline for comparisons of richness and diversity post invasion by the hemlock woolly adelgid.

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