The effect of habitat modification on firefly populations at the Rembau-Linggi estuary, Peninsular Malaysia

Wan Faridah Akmal Wan Jusoh & Nor Rasidah Hashim

Ohba Firefly Institute, 4-1-12-204 Maborikaigan, Yokosuka City 239-0801, Japan.

ABSTRACT

The synchronously flashing firefly Pteroptyx tener congregates on trees along a nine kilometre stretch of the Rembau-Linggi estuary, but their population and the potential economic benefits from firefly ecotourism may be threatened by destruction of mangroves. To investigate the changes taking place to the mangroves on which the fireflies depend, we conducted land-use spatial analysis of satellite images and ground surveys within specific distances from the river. Land use analysis showed that mangroves at the study site have been highly modified over two decades and underwent intensive conversion to other land uses (e.g. agriculture, aquaculture and urbanisation). More recently, canalisation work also destroyed a large area of mangroves. Of the 87 firefly display trees identified two years earlier, only 41 still had fireflies congregating on them, and 14 trees had been destroyed. No new firefly display trees were found. There is an urgent need to conserve the fireflies and their habitat before they become locally extinct.

tags: Habitat modification, land-use analysis, GIS, river widening, fireflies, mangroves, Rembau-Linggi