Butterfly diversity in an organic tea estate of Darjeeling Hills, eastern Himalaya, India

Main Article Content

Aditya Pradhan
Sarala Khaling


The study was undertaken from March–May 2019 to explore the butterflies in the human-modified tea dominated landscape of Darjeeling Hills and understanding the diversity, community structure, habitat specialization, and conservation status of butterflies in an organic tea estate.  Sampling was done in the two representative ecosystems of tea plantation and secondary forest within the study area.  Altogether 71 species and sub-species across 43 genera belonging to five families were recorded during this study, of which seven are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972.


Article Details


Funding data


Acharya, B.K. & L. Vijayan (2015). Butterfly diversity along the elevation gradient of Eastern Himalaya, India. Ecological Research 30(5): 909–919.

Acharya, B.K. & L. Vijayan (2011). Butterflies of Sikkim with reference to elevational gradient in species, abundance, composition, similarity and range size distribution, pp. 207–222. In: Arawatia, M.L. & S. Tambe (eds.) Biodiversity of Sikkim: Exploring and Conserving A Global Hotspot. IPR Department, Govt of Sikkim, Gangtok, India, 542pp.

Ahmad K. & H.S.A. Yahya (2010). Winter diversity of birds in Makaibari Tea Estate, Kurseong, Darjeeling, India. Indian Forester 136(1): 69–87.

Ahmed, A. & M. Dey (2014). A checklist of winter birds community in different habitat types of Rosekandy Tea Estate of Assam, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 6(2): 5478–5484. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3246.5478-84 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3246.5478-84

Blair, R.B. & A.E. Launer (1997). Butterfly diversity and human land use: species assemblages along an urban gradient. Biological Conservation 80(1): 113–125. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(96)00056-0 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(96)00056-0

Chettri, A., K. Sharma, S. Dewan & B.K. Acharya (2018a). Bird diversity of tea plantations in Darjeeling Hills, Eastern Himalaya, India. Biodiversitas 19: 1066–1073. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13057/biodiv/d190339

Chettri, N. (2015). Distribution of butterflies along a trekking corridor in the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim, Eastern Himalayas. Conservation Science 3(1): 1–10. http://doi.org/10.3126/cs.v3i1.13767 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/cs.v3i1.13767

Chettri, P.K., K. Sharma, S. Dewan & B.K. Acharya (2018b). Butterfly diversity in human-modified ecosystems of southern Sikkim, the eastern Himalaya, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10(5): 11551–11565. http://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3641.10.5.11551-11565 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3641.10.5.11551-11565

Darjeeling Tea (2020). Assessed at http://darjeeling.gov.in/darj-tea.html Assessed on 9 January 2020.

Datta, T.K. (2010). Darjeeling Tea in India, pp. 113–159. In: Lecoent, A., E. Vandecandelaere & J.J. Cadilhol (eds.) Quality linked to the geographical origin and geographical indications: lessons learned from six case studies in Asia, RAP Publication 2010/04. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, 188pp.

Dewan, S., B.K. Acharya & S. Ghatani (2018). A new record of the lesser-known butterfly Small Woodbrown Lethe nicetella de Nicéville, 1887 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) from Kangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10(6): 11775–11779. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3987.10.6.11775-11779 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3987.10.6.11775-11779

Haribal, M. (1992). The Butterflies of Sikkim Himalaya and their natural history. Sikkim Nature Conservation Foundation, Gangtok, 217pp.

IUCN (2017). The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Version 2017-3. Accessed at http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed on 14 September 2019.

Kehimkar, I. (2016). Butterflies of India. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

Kitahara, M. (2004). Butterfly community composition and conservation in and around a primary woodland of Mount Fuji, central Japan. Biodiversity and Conservation 13(5): 917–942. http://doi.org/10.1023/B:BIOC.0000014462.83594.58 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/B:BIOC.0000014462.83594.58

Kottawa-Arachchi, J.D. & R.N. Gamage (2015). Avifaunal diversity and bird community responses to man-made habitats in St. Coombs Tea Estate, Sri Lanka. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(2): 6878–6890. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3483.6878-90 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3483.6878-90

Kunte, K. (2010). Rediscovery of the federally protected Scarce Jester Butterfly Symbrenthia silana de Niceville, 1885 (Nymphalidae: Nymphalinae) from the Eastern Himalaya and Garo Hills, northeastern India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 2(5): 858–866. http://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2371.858-66 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2371.858-66

Kunte, K., A. Joglekar, U. Ghate & P. Pramod (1999). Patterns of butterfly, birds and tree diversity in the Western Ghats. Current Science 77(4): 577–586.

Kunte, K., S. Sondhi & P. Roy (2020). Butterflies of India, v. 2.70. Indian Foundation for Butterflies. https://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/. Assessed on 20 January 2020.

Lin N., T.T. Nam & J. Perera (2012). Response of birds to different management types of tea cultivation in a forest-agriculture landscape, pp. 12–20. In: Harrison R., L.L. Shi, & J.X. Liu (eds.) Proceedings of the Advanced Field Course in Ecology and Conservation-XTBG 2012, 74pp

Lindström, S., B. Klatt, H. Smith & R. Bommarco (2018). Crop management affects pollinator attractiveness and visitation in oil seed rape. Basic Application Ecology 26: 82–88.

Losey, J.E. & M. Vaughan (2006). The economic value of ecological services provided by insects. Bioscience 56: 311–323.

Makaibari (2020). Healthy Soil, Healthy Mankind. Assessed at http://www.makaibari.com/. Assessed on 9 January 2020.

Mayfield, M.M., M.E. Boni, G.C. Daily & D. Ackerly (2005). Species and functional diversity of native and human-dominated plant communities. Ecology 86(9): 2365–2372. https://doi.org/10.1890/05-0141 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1890/05-0141

Muratet, A., & B. Fontaine (2015). Contrasting impacts of pesticides on butterflies and bumblebees in private gardens in France. Biological Conservation 182: 148–154.

Pollard, E. (1977). A method for assessing changes in the abundance of butterflies. Biological Conservation 12: 116–134. https://doi. org/10.1016/0006-3207(77)90065-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-3207(77)90065-9

Rai, S., K.D. Bhutia & K. Kunte (2012). Recent sightings of two very rare butterflies, Lethe margaritae Elwes, 1882 and Neptis nycteus de Niceville, 1890, from Sikkim, eastern Himalaya, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 4(14): 3319–3326. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2965.3319-26 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2965.3319-26

Rands, M.R.W. & N.W. Sotherton (1986). Pesticide use on cereal crops and changes in the abundance of butterflies on arable farmland in England. Biological Conservation 36(1): 71–82.

Roy, U.S., M. Mukherjee, & S.K. Mukhopadhyay (2012). Butterfly diversity and abundance with reference to habitat heterogeneity in and around Neora Valley National Park, West Bengal, India. Our Nature 10(1): 53–60.

Rundlof, M., J. Bengtsson & H.G. Smith (2008). Local and landscape effects of organic farming on butterfly species richness and abundance. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 813–820.

Sengupta, P., K., Banerjee & N. Ghorai (2014). Seasonal diversity of butterflies and their larval food plants in the surroundings of upper Neora Valley National Park, a sub-tropical broad leaved hill forest in the eastern Himalayan landscape, West Bengal, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 6(1): 5327–5342. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3446.5327-42 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3446.5327-42

Sharma, K., B.K. Acharya, G. Sharma, D. Valente, M.R. Pasimeni, I. Petrosillo & T. Selvan (2020). Land use effect on butterfly alpha and beta diversity in the Eastern Himalaya, India. Ecological Indicators 105605. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105605 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105605

Soh, M.C.K., N.S. Sodhi & S.L.H. Lim (2006). High sensitivity of montane bird communities to habitat disturbance in Peninsular Malaysia. Biological Conservation 129(2): 149–166.

Sreekar, R., A. Mohan, S. Das, P. Agarwal & R. Vivek (2013). Natural windbreaks sustain bird diversity in a tea-dominated landscape. PLoS One 8: e70379. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070379 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070379

Subasinghe, K. & A.P. Sumanapala (2014). Biological and functional diversity of bird communities in natural and human modified habitats in Northern Flank of Knuckles Mountain Forest Range, Sri Lanka. Biodiversitas 15 (2): 200–205.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Accessed at https://www.nbaindia.org/uploaded/Biodiversityindia/Legal/15.20Wildlife20(Protection)20Act,1972 Accessed on 14 September 2019.

Tscharntke, T., C.H. Sekercioglu, T.V. Dietsch, N.S. Sodhi, P. Hoen & J.M. Tylianakis (2008). Landscape constraints on functional diversity of birds and insects in tropical agroecosystems. Ecology 89 (4): 944–951. https://doi.org/10.1890/07-0455.1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1890/07-0455.1

Varshney, R.K. & P. Smetacek (2015). A synoptic catalogue of the Butterflies of India. Butterfly Research Centre, Bhimtal & Indinov Publishing, 261pp.

Vu, L.V. (2013). The effect of habitat disturbance and altitudes on the diversity of butterflies (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) in a tropical forest of Vietnam: results of a long-term and large-scale study. Russian Entomological Journal 22(1): 51–65.

Yashmita-Ulman, M. Sharma & A. Kumar (2016). Agroforestry Systems as Habitat for Avian Species: Assessing its role in conservation. Proceedings of Zoological Society 17:127–145. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12595-016-0198-3 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12595-016-0198-3

Zingg, S., J. Grenz & J.Y. Humbert (2018). Landscape-scale effects of land use intensity on birds and butterflies. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 267: 119–128.