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Revista Brasileira de Entomologia

On-line version ISSN 1806-9665

Rev. Bras. entomol. vol.56 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2012  Epub Mar 29, 2012 

Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera, Hesperioidea) from Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil: 70 years of records with special reference to faunal composition of Vila Velha State Park



Olaf H. H. MielkeI,II; Eduardo CarneiroI; Mirna Martins CasagrandeI,II

ILaboratório de Estudos de Lepidoptera Neotropical, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná. Caixa Postal 19020,
81531_980 Curitiba-PR, Brasil, E-mail:,,




Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera, Hesperioidea) from Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil: 70 years of records with special reference to faunal composition of Vila Velha State Park. The municipality of Ponta Grossa has a peculiar ecosystem, originally composed of Mixed Ombrophilous Forest and natural isolated fragments of Araucaria forest interconnected by large areas of the steppe phytophysionomy known as the Brazilian "campos" (grasslands). However, both ecosystems have been continually reduced by human occupation, with remnants still found in the Vila Velha State Park, whose floristic composition has been recently related to the Cerrado biome. Few studies have been dedicated to recognize the characteristic fauna of these grasslands and its relationship with other Brazilian vegetation types, which has motivated this study. After gathering information from more than 70 years of collecting in the region, a list of 225 species of Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera, Hesperioidea) recorded within the municipality is provided, of which 162 are indicator species of forest environments and 53 of open areas. The Vila Velha State Park contributes to the conservation of 65% of the species and its skipper community shows a closer affinity to the Pampas and Cerrado instead of forested habitats. This relation may be attributed to its precise localization between both ecosystems, since geographical distances affect similarities on Hesperiidae assemblages. The flora of Vila Velha can also influence the observed pattern, since a considerably number of species found in the region are also found in Cerrado. Further studies are still required among Brazilian grassland habitats, especially in the Cerrado enclaves within the states of Paraná and São Paulo in attempt to better understand the mechanisms that drive the community dynamics in those areas.

Key-words: Biodiversity; conservation unit; grasslands; inventory; skippers.


Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera, Hesperioidea) de Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil: 70 anos de registros com especial referência à composição faunística do Parque Estadual de Vila Velha. O município de Ponta Grossa se destaca por apresentar originalmente uma paisagem peculiar onde capões isolados de Floresta Ombrófila Mista são interligados por grandes extensões de fitofisionomias estépicas, também denominadas campos. No entanto, ambos os ecossistemas atualmente se encontram altamente ameaçados pela ocupação humana, restando na região o Parque Estadual de Vila Velha, cuja composição florística tem sido recentemente relacionada com o bioma Cerrado. Poucos trabalhos são dedicados à caracterização da fauna dos campos e sua relação com outras fitofisionomias estépicas brasileiras, motivo que suscitou a realização deste estudo. Após reunir informações de coletas realizadas por mais de 70 anos, são listadas 225 espécies de Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera, Hesperioidea) presentes no município, entre elas 162 indicadoras de ambientes florestais e 53 de áreas abertas. O Parque Estadual de Vila Velha contribui para a conservação de 65% delas enquanto sua composição se mostra intimamente relacionada tanto aos Pampas como ao Cerrado, em detrimento de hábitats florestais. Tal relação é dada provavelmente pela localização geográfica de Vila Velha, visto que a similaridade da fauna de Hesperiidae se encontrou influenciada pelas distâncias geográficas das amostras no presente estudo. A flora de Vila Velha também deve afetar diretamente a composição observada de Hesperiidae, uma vez que uma grande parte de suas espécies são também encontradas em áreas de Cerrado. No entanto, estudos em ambientes campestres brasileiros ainda se fazem necessários, especialmente em enclaves de Cerrado no Paraná e em São Paulo, para que se adquira um melhor entendimento da dinâmica de suas comunidades.

Palavras-chave: Biodiversidade; borboletas; campos; inventário; unidade de conservação.



The municipality of Ponta Grossa is located in the Second Plateau of the State of Paraná within the Atlantic Forest biome, represented by the Araucaria Forest ecosystem. The region is also dominated by a grassland vegetation type called "campos" (Garcia et al. 2009), interspersed by gallery forests and isolated fragments of Araucaria forest, on a predominantly shallow and sandy soil (Maack 1968; Guimarães et al. 2009). The most outstanding preservation area in this municipality is the Vila Velha State Park (VVSP), which is intensively visited due to its wide variety of geomorphological attractions. The park also presents a number of Cerrado elements and a typical alluvial forest besides its river streams (Cervi et al. 2007; Gonçalves et al. 2009). Due to this complexity, current literature provides an extensive discussion about the characterization and classification of this vegetation, as well as of the Parana's Grasslands region, focusing on the identification of its origin and the similarities with other Brazilian ecosystems (Veloso et al. 1991; Ritter et al. 2007; Cervi et al. 2007).

Among the butterflies, a group constantly cited as a bioindicator, little is known about the species composition, richness and endemism in grassland regions. In Brazil, the regions which have already been studied are concentrated mostly in the Pampas (i.e. Krüger & Silva 2003; Marchiori & Romanowski 2006a; Marchiori & Romanowski 2006b; Paz et al. 2008; Rosa et al. 2011), although grassland habitats have also been sampled in other biomes, such as Mata Atlântica (Iserhard et al. 2010; Dolibaina et al. 2011; Pedrotti et al. 2011), Pantanal (Brown 1987), Cerrado (Brown & Mielke 1967a; Brown & Mielke 1967b; Brown 1987; Mielke et al. 2008), and Caatinga (Nobre et al. 2008). Nevertheless, studies frequently do not include the Hesperioidea (e.g. Krüger & Silva 2003; Paz et al. 2008) due to difficulties with the preparation and identification of its species.

To contribute to the knowledge of butterfly composition and distribution in grassland habitats, this study aimed to prepare a species list of Hesperiidae of Ponta Grossa municipality and VVSP, indicating the potential contribution of the park to the conservation of the Brazilian biodiversity. Additionally, species composition of VVSP was compared with other Hesperiidae lists made in different ecosystems, aiming to characterize its fauna and indicate, trough an entomological perspective, which vegetation type in Brazil influences the VVSP species composition.



The list was obtained through the identification of specimens deposited in the Padre Jesus Santiago Moure Entomological Collection (DZUP), located in Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Paraná, Brasil. This collection comprises specimens from all seasons, collected mostly by Felipe Justus (autonomous researcher residing in Ponta Grossa from 1939 to 1961) and O. Mielke (1966 to 2010), compiling a high intensive sampling effort that represents a reliable scenario of the species richness and composition of Hesperiidae. Specimens labels present exact location of districts within Ponta Grossa municipality, which nowadays corresponds to neighborhood inside the city, such as C. Bruhm, Campo, Jardim, Lageado, Nova Rússia, Oficinas, Olarias, Pedreira, Prainha, Ronda, Quintal (personal backyard of Felipe Justus' house) and Taquari. Other localities, however, correspond to more distant regions (10 km N Ponta Grossa, 20 km N Piriquitos, Piriquitos, Vila Velha) where the urban expansion and anthropogenic effects are reduced. Therefore, it was possible to identify and analyze species collected inside the VVSP from those collected in other regions of the municipality, here assigned as "city". For a full description of the vegetation of the park and the region see Cervi et al. (2007) and Guimarães et al. (2009).

All listed species were classified with respect to their habitat preference, as follows: forest (species typically found in forested habitats); open areas (species typically from habitats without a canopy, which can include areas of Pampas, Cerrado, Caatinga or even anthropic localities). This classification aims to characterize the studied areas and to increase the knowledge of bioindicator butterflies groups and/or species.

A NMDS analysis based on Dice similarity index (Dice 1945) was performed to identify the faunal similarity relationship of the VVSP with other Brazilian vegetation types. Dice similarity index was chosen because it showed to be more appropriate when samples present differences on sampling effort (Wolda 1981). Published species lists for other ecosystems were used for comparison, as follows: Cerrado (Brown Jr. 1987; Mielke et al. 2008), Pampas (Biezanko & Freitas 1938; Biezanko 1963; Canals 2000; Marchiori & Romanowski 2006a; Nuñez-Bustos 2007; Rosa et al. 2011; and additional data from specimens deposited in the DZUP) and Atlantic Forest (Mielke 1968; Mielke & Casagrande 1997; Iserhard & Romanowski 2004; Carneiro et al. 2008; Nuñez-Bustos 2009; Francini et al. 2011). These localities were selected because they represent the typical fauna of the ecosystem where they are located, without the influence from neighboring ecosystems. The papers of Marchiori & Romanowski (2006a), Rosa et al. (2011) for Espinilho and Uruguaiana, as well as Canals (2000) and Nuñez-Bustos (2009) for Buenos Aires, had their species list complemented because of the close proximity between localities containing the same vegetation type. Additionally, an ANOSIM analysis was performed, where vegetation types were indicated as factors. P values were adjusted with Bonferroni's correction even thought it did not change the significance of results. Finally, a RELATE test based on Spearman rank correlation method was used to determine if the geographic distance influences the similarity between localities. For this test, Dice similarity index was again used for fauna, while Euclidian distance was used as a measurement of geographical distance.



A total of 225 species of Hesperiidae are presented for Ponta Grossa (Table I), of which 21 have not been recorded during the last fifty years of study, even after an intensive sampling effort (99 days of collecting). Although most of the listed species are indicators of forested habitats (162 spp.), the region is strongly marked by the presence of typical open area species (53 spp.), and few generalist species (10 spp.).

The presence of two subspecies of Epargyreus socus (E. socus socus and E. socus pseudexadeus), collected together in the same region, with differences in their genitalia morphology (O. Mielke pers. observ.), suggests that these taxa should be treated as different species, although more refined taxonomic studies are necessary to confirm this hypothesis.

The VVSP contributes to the conservation of 149 species, approximately 65% of the total richness, with the remaining 76 species exclusively found in other localities of the entire region. From the total, 90 species are indicators of forested environments, while 50 are indicators of open areas and nine are generalists.

NMDS analysis showed an ordination of samples, in which vegetation types clearly affect the similarities of Hesperiidae (Fig. 1). However, VVSP's position between Cerrado and Pampas cannot be assigned to any of the vegetation types, since no sample clumping was generated. This result was corroborated by ANOSIM test (R2 = 0.63; p < 0.01), in which the statement of VVSP as Pampas or Cerrado did not influence on correlation value or significance (unpublished data). Additionally, similarity of samples showed to be also influenced by geographical proximity (RELATE, R² = 0.45; p < 0.05).




The high number of species recorded to Ponta Grossa is primarily a result of the extensive and intensive sampling effort in the region (more than 70 years of collecting), and secondarily to the environmental heterogeneity which comprises species typical of forested regions and open areas, such as the Natural Grasslands (Cervi et al. 2007). Curitiba, a city with similar vegetation heterogeneity, also presents a similar number of recorded species, with 210 published species (C. Mielke 1994), plus 34 registered later (O. Mielke unpublished data). Such inventories, although still not considered complete, present a high number of species richness when compared to other inventories which include only one or two years of sampling (e.g. Mielke 1968; Mielke & Casagrande 1997; Iserhard & Romanowski 2004; Carneiro et al. 2008; Iserhard et al. 2010).

The indication that 21 species of butterflies were not recorded during the last 50 years should not be used as an argument of local extinction, regardless the temporal series of sampling along this period. The absence of many species may be due to difficulties in sampling megadiverse groups (Santos 2003), which are, in general, comprised by a large number of "rare" species. Adult migration or dispersal from their natural habitat may be one of the causes of the supposed rarity of some species. For instance, it can be presumed that some individual of Heliopetes libra, Urbanus chalco and Urbanus virescens, coming from west regions in Paraná state occasionally disperse to Ponta Grossa, due to the fact that these butterflies are common in Seasonal Semideciduous Forest (O. Mielke 1968; Nuñez-Bustos 2009) and are not observed in Curitiba (C. Mielke 1994). This is an important task, because the lack of this kind of more precise data prevents the correct delimitation of species distributions and occurrence.

Concerning the use of butterflies as bioindicators, it is important to point out that, even in a predominantly grasslands region, the adjacent presence of isolated fragments of Araucaria Forest, together with a rich Hesperiidae fauna, directly influences the number and composition of the local community. Many forest species leave these fragments to foraging in open environments, a phenomenon also observed in other biomes such as in the Cerrado and Caatinga (O. Mielke pers. observ.), where gallery forest species are also observed on flowers in grassland areas.

Therefore, the VVSP presents itself as an important tool on preserving the open area skipper species, which can be found in Ponta Grossa and in Grasslands of Paraná as a whole. Nevertheless, the forested portions of the Park are insufficient for the conservation of Araucaria Forest species of butterflies. Therefore, it is necessary and urgent to create other regional protected areas in order to preserve a larger part of this extremely threatened ecosystem, of which currently only 1% of its original cover remains (Cervi et al. 2007).

NMDS analyses indicated that those ecosystems, traditionally recognized in Brazilian conservation policies, play a direct effect on the skippers communities' composition. Strikingly, VVSP appears to be influenced by both grasslands ecosystems present on north and south of its limits, where its geographical localization and flora composition may be the main factors influencing this mixture of species. A similar pattern was observed for bee assemblages, where although VVSP is more closely related to Pampas areas, a number of species endemic to Cerrado were also found (Gonçalves et al. 2009). This number can be even more representative in respect to plants, whose 63% of the grass species and 40% of the entire flora are shared with the flora of Cerrado (Cervi et al. 2007). As a conclusion, these authors also suggested that all of Paraná's Grasslands should be classified as belonging to the Cerrado biome. However, based on insect distribution, whether or not VVSP and other grassland habitats should be named as Cerrado or Pampas, might be an arbitrary problem of classification systems, since no biological segregation of communities is actually observed.



Although a large part of the species registered in the municipality of Ponta Grossa is also found within the VVSP, the park's participation in local biodiversity conservation is basically restricted to the protection of open area species, making it necessary also to preserve larger forested areas in the region. Hesperiidae assemblage in VVSP is similarly influenced by both grasslands vegetation types (Cerrado and Pampas), despite the park being geographically isolated from both. While the VVSP still needs complementary studies which will help in the identification of its biodiversity and its biological peculiarities, it becomes necessary to inventory the Hesperiidae species within other grasslands ecosystems in Brazil, especially the Cerrado enclaves in the states of Paraná and São Paulo, in order to better understand the mainly factors affecting its species distributions.



The present study is dedicated to the autonomous researcher Felipe Justus, naturalist and enthusiast in the study of insects, whose efforts were concentrated in the formation of his private entomological collection, which was after acquired during the 1950s by Jesus S. Moure, and gave origin to the "Coleção Entomológica Pe. Jesus Santiago Moure" (UFPR). We thank the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the financial support of this research.



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Received 23/3/2011;
accepted 8/2/2012



Editor: Marcelo Duarte

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