The effect of coal surface mine reclamation on diurnal lepidopteran conservation.
Diurnal lepidopteran and vegetational communities were surveyed on 18 reclaimed coal surface mines and 5 hardwood sites in Virginia during 1992 and 1993. Comparison of lepidopteran communities indicated that community composition on later-successional reclaimed sites was approaching that of the surrounding hardwoods. Diurnal moth species richness and abundance increased with time since reclamation, whereas butterfly species richness and abundance decreased. Diurnal moth communities were better indicators of vegetational community composition and species richness than were butterfly communities. While most lepidopteran species commonly found in hardwoods were recorded in later-successional reclaimed sites, a number of less common species were not observed. It is concluded that the success of mine reclamation in restoring the full complement of lepidopteran species native to hardwood forests in this region is debatable and that further consideration must be given to the long-term effects of current mine reclamation practices.