Great Basin Naturalist


Studies of Great Basin faunas can provide information for landscape-level adaptive management by federal agencies and shed light on potential effects of climate change in continental interior landscapes. To provide such information, we characterized the butterfly fauna of the Toquima Range, a mountain range in the heart of the Great Basin with topography typical of the region. We also compared the butterfly fauna of the Toquima Range to that of the adjacent Toiyabe Range, which is more topographically complex and species rich but less representative of the Great Basin on the whole. We explicitly addressed the effects of area and water availability on butterfly species richness. Butterfly species presence data were compiled for 14 canons and 1 peak in the Toquima Range. Data from 11 canyons that we inventoried systematically were amenable to statistical analysis. Eighty butterfly species (59 residents) have been recorded from the Toquima Range since 1935. By comparison, 99 species have been recorded from the Toiyabe Range. Mean canyon-level butterfly species richness was significantly lower in the Toquima Range than in the Toiyabe Range. This difference cannot be explained by differences in canyon size between mountain ranges. Within the Toquima Range water availability seems to have a dominant effect on butterfly species richness. Between mountain ranges species richness is influenced by interactions among areas, moisture, and topography. These data should assist managers in developing guidelines for conservation planning in the Great Basin.