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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Surveying moths using light traps: effects of weather and time of year

Jonason, Dennis; Franzén, Markus; Ranius, Thomas


Light trapping is an ideal method for surveying nocturnal moths, but in the absence of standardised survey methods effects of confounding factors may impede interpretation of the acquired data. We explored the influence of weather, time of year, and light source on nightly catches of macro moths in light traps, and compared four strategies for sampling by estimating observed species richness using rarefaction. We operated two traps with different light sources for 225 consecutive nights from mid-March to the end of October in eastern Germany in 2011. In total, 49 472 individuals of 372 species were recorded. Species richness and abundance per night were mainly influenced by night temperature, humidity and lamp type. With a limited sample size (<10 nights) it was slightly better to concentrate sampling on the warmest summer nights, but with more sampling nights it was slightly better to sample during the warmest nights in each month (March to October). By exploiting the higher moth activity during warm nights and an understanding of the species' phenology, it is possible to increase the number of species caught and reduce effects of confounding abiotic factors.

Published in

2014, volume: 9, number: 3, article number: e92453

Authors' information

Jonason, Dennis
Linköping University
Jonason, Dennis
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Franzén, Markus
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

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