Species

BackPhlogophora interrupta Warren, 1905

Phlogophora interrupta Warren, 1905

Owlet Moth (English); Traça (Portuguese)

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: NOCTUIDAE
LC Least Concern
IUCN Red List Status:

Countries of Occurrence:
Portugal - Azores

Archipelago(s):
Azores

Reviewer/s:
Danielczak, A.

Contributor/s:
Nunes, R., Lamelas-Lopez, L. & Amorim, I.R.

Facilitators / Compilers/s:


Assessment Rationale:

Phlogophora interrupta is an endemic species present in Flores, Faial, Pico, Graciosa, S. Jorge, Terceira, S. Miguel and Santa Maria islands (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010). It has a relatively large area of occupancy (AOO = 312 km²) and a large extent of occurrence (EOO = 37,624  km²). The species can be found in native forest fragments, but also in the habitats which are dominated by forest plantations and patches of semi-natural and exotic vegetation.  Based on Ferreira et al. (2016) the habitat will decline as a consequence of climate change (increasing number of droughts). The species is assessed as Least Concern (LC) due to the widespread distribution, having also a high range of altitude occupancy (100-1000 m).

Geographic Range:

Phlogophora interrupta is an endemic species present in Flores, Faial, Pico, Graciosa, S. Jorge, Terceira, S. Miguel and Santa Maria islands (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010), occurring mostly in native forest (Vieira et al. 1998), specially of the central group of the Azorean archipelago (e.g. Meyer 1991), being known from nine Natural Forest Reserves: Caldeiras Funda e Rasa and Morro Alto e Pico da Sé (Flores); Caldeira do Faial and Cabeço do Fogo  (Faial);  Pico Pinheiro (S. Jorge); Caldeira Guilherme Moniz and Caldeira Sta. Bárbara e Mistérios Negros (Terceira), Graminhais (S. Miguel), Pico Alto (S. Maria). The extent of occurrence (EOO) is ca 38,000 km² and the maximum estimated area of occupancy (AOO) is 312 km².

Regions:
Portugal - Azores
Extent of Occurrence (EOO):
38000 (km2)
Area of Occupancy (AOO):
312 (km2)
Elevation Lower Limit:
100 (m)
Elevation Upper Limit:
1000 (m)
Biogeographic Realms:
Palearctic
Presence:
Extant
Origin:
Endemic Azores
Seasonality:
Resident

Population:

The species is a widespread and abundant species in native and naturalised vegetation at medium and high elevations of the Azorean islands (with exception of Corvo island). The adults are rare at lower elevations (Vieira et al. 1998). The species has currently a stable population.

Habitat and Ecology

This species occurs particularly in typical medium to highland biotopes with native grass and moss on Azorean islands (despite some registered records at lower altitudes). The adults of P. interrupta are captured in light traps from April to November, with a maximum of individuals in summer (e.g.,  Santa Bábara, Terceira, in end of july; Vieira et al. 1998). Primarily the larvae feed on various ferns (e.g. Dryopteris spp., Osmunda regalis) and also on Rubus spp. (Wagner 2015). Possibly, the larvae are a specialized herbivore, and the adults have three generations per year. Altitudinal range: 100-1000 m.

Major Threat(s):

In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality, mostly the creation of pastures (Triantis et al. 2010). Currently the species is under threat due to degradation of the habitat by cattle but also invasive plants Pittosporum undulatum and Hedychium gardnerianum are changing some of the areas and decreasing the quality of the habitat. These changes are decreasing the relative cover of endemic plants and changing the soil cover (decreasing the cover of bryophytes and ferns) with the expansion of other plants and potential threats to the species. Based on Ferreira et al.(2016) the habitat will further decline as a consequence of climate change (increasing number of droughts and  habitat shifting & alteration).

Conservation Actions

The species is not protected by regional law. Its habitat is in regionally protected areas (Natural Parks of Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Pico, S. Jorge, Terceira, S. Miguel and Sta. Maria). Further research is needed into its ecology and life history in order to learn about the ecological requirements of the species and the feeding substrate of the larva, and find extant specimens. Degraded habitats should be restored and a strategy needs to be developed to address the future threat by climate change. It is necessary a monitoring plan for the invertebrate community in the habitat in order to contribute to the conservation of this species. A habitat management plan is needed and anticipated to be developed during the coming years. Monitoring every ten years using the BALA protocol will inform about habitat quality (see e.g. Gaspar et al. 2010).