Aspire Grant Program Awardee

Mercy Murkwe

Changes in the Population Structure of Fruit Feeding Butterflies Along an Altitudinal Gradient of Mount Cameroon

Fruit feeding butterflies are considered as alternatives in the determination of environmental quality changes. Changes in the diversity of fruit feeding butterflies at 4 altitudes of the Mount Cameroon national park will be assesed were specifically: the diversity of fruit-feeding butterflies at different altitudes of Mt Cameroon will be determine; the indices of biodiversity of fruit-feeding butterflies along elevation gradients will be assessed; the key factors of the environment that influence the diversity and abundance of fruit-feeding butterflies will be identified and the influence of season on the diversity and distribution of fruit feeding butterflies will be determined. The sample sites will be set along 1100 m, 650 m, 350 m a.s.l and in the Bimbia-Bonadikombo Mangrove Reserve Forest (0 m a.s.l) of the mountain. Buterflies will be obtained by means of 80 traps set at each altitude and baited with overripe bananas. The traps will be exposed for 10 consecutive days. Each site will be sampled twice at transitions between seasons (November-January: rainy to dry; and March-May: dry to rainy). All analyses will be performed with the software R version 3.0.3. The study will reveal butterfly fauna present in Mount Cameroon among which rare and common species will be documented and species restricted to some particular geographic and climatic locations. These species will be systematically collected for further research and study on how species could response to Global climate change in order to build a good taxonomic database for butterfly biodiversity in Cameroon and initiate on conservation practices in this region.