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Official Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa
Metamorphosis Volume 31 (2020), Part 1 Articles: 139 - 147
Publication Date : 2020-12-23
Author/s : Adrian J. Armstrong

Title :

The status and distribution of Pennington’s Protea butterfly Capys penningtoni (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclinae)

Abstract :

The Red List status of Pennington’s protea butterfly Capys penningtoni has deteriorated from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered since 2009. This species is endemic to part of the midlands and Drakensberg foothills of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Capys penningtoni is restricted to protea savanna where its hostplant, Protea caffra, occurs. A research programme was started when the Red List status of the species was Vulnerable, with the aims of preventing the extinction of C. penningtoni and improving its conservation status. An initial requirement was to more accurately determine the distribution and conservation status of C. penningtoni. A further requirement was to ascertain what might be the main threats facing the species in the wild. Surveillance of the species at some sites was carried out to try and ascertain whether the conservation status of the species was deteriorating further. Our knowledge of the distribution range of the species has improved with the identification of seven previously unknown sites where the species was present. A distribution model was developed for the species that predicted that C. penningtoni could be more widely distributed in the central midlands and Drakensberg foothills of KwaZulu-Natal. The model did not predict the occurrence of the species at three of the newly discovered sites. Further ground-truthing of the model is required. Surveillance results suggest that C. penningtoni may have become locally extinct or less abundant at sites where it was previously recorded, indicating that its conservation status has deteriorated. The main threats to C. penningtoni appears to be the presence of the alien invasive Harlequin ladybird beetle Harmonia axyridis and the inappropriate fire regimes and burning practices in the protea savanna habitat of the species.

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Keywords:

Critically Endangered, predicted distribution, surveillance, Harmonia axyridis, inappropriate fire regimes

Citation :

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