The adult sphingid communities of three sites in southeastern Peru representative of the moist tropical forest of the lowland Amazon, the pluvial tropical forest of the upper Amazon and Andean foothills, and the montane cloud forest of the eastern slopes of the Andes were sampled during 2004-2006 by using mercury vapor light traps. In total, 119 species of Sphingidae were documented. Species diversity was highest in the upper Amazon and Andean foothills, with 94 species (21 genera), followed by 80 species (21 genera) in the Amazonian lowlands, and 43 species (17 genera) in the montane cloud forest. The greatest number of endemics (22) was registered at the upper AmazonAndean foothills site. The montane cloud forest site was characterized by the highest relative percentage of endemic species. The species assemblages of the lowland Amazon and the Andean foothills were more similar in composition to each other than to the montane assemblage. All three assemblages proved to be more distinctive than expected based on the proximity of the sampled sites and seemingly good flight capabilities of sphingid moths. This was reflected by the endemics accounting for nearly 40% of the total species pool. By contrast, cosmopolitans numbered only 26 species, or 22% of the total assemblage. We hypothesize that the composition and distribution of sphingid species along this elevational gradient may reflect floristic similarities and differences between the study sites and the extent to which different species are adapted to cope with certain environmental conditions, such as temperature and air humidity.
- Andes Mountains