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Biodiversity conservation decisions are typically based on limited data and resources. For this reason, there is great interest in surveying taxa that may allow for a rapid assessment of the biodiversity at a site. Numerous taxa have been proposed and utilized for rapid assessments that allow for such a survey in a matter of weeks or less. Herein, we test the idea that nocturnal moths have many of the characteristics that make them ideal for such surveys, such as relative ease of identification, strong ecological association with specific plant species and habitats, high alpha diversity, extended seasonal activity, and ease of trapping. We demonstrate that even in a few hours of sampling during single night surveys, moth communities are predictive of regional forest types at sampling sites in New Jersey. We sampled moths in five different forest habitats in New Jersey, USA: Pine Barrens, Upland Deciduous Forest, Palustrine Deciduous Forest, Maritime Forest, and Ruderal/Disturbed Forests, at four sites per forest type. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analyses revealed that moth communities differ significantly across these four forest types (p < 0.01). We used Analysis of Similarity (ANOSIM) R tests to quantify the degree of differentiation among moth communities, and found that Tortricidae (R = 0.657) and Geometridae (R = 0.637) predict forest communities nearly as well as the total moth diversity (R = 0.668). Uncommon species (R = 0.665) were better predictors than common species (R = 0.500). Host plant generalists (R = 0.654) were better predictors than specialists (0.538), which was a surprising find.


© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Publication of this article was supported by the 2022-23 Rowan University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Duran, Daniel P., Matthew Timar, and Blaine Rothauser. 2022. "Single Night Surveys of Moth Communities Can Serve as Ultra-Rapid Biodiversity Assessments" Insects 13, no. 12: 1135.

Publication of this article was supported by the 2022-23 Rowan University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.