Aloeides nubilus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Lepidoptera Lycaenidae

Scientific Name: Aloeides nubilus Henning & Henning, 1982
Common Name(s):
English Cloud Copper

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A3ce; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Larsen, T.B.
Reviewer(s): Lewis, O. & Bohm, M.
Contributor(s): Senior, M. & Topham, E.

Aloeides nubilus (Cloud Copper) was previously listed on the IUCN Red Data List as Vulnerable (D2). However, the most recent South African Red Data Book lists the species as Endangered [EN A3ce; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)] and that assessment is supported here. The current extent of occurrence (EOO) is approximately 400 km2 and the area of occupancy (AOO) is smaller than 50 km2 as the species only inhabits rocky areas in montane grasslands and forests (Henning et al. 2009). The distribution is severely fragmented and there is an ongoing decline in EOO, AOO, the area of habitat, the number of locations and the number of mature individuals (Henning et al. 2009). Both the extent of occurrence (EOO) and the area of occupancy (AOO) are less than the respective thresholds for Endangered (EN) species under criterion B. The species is found in just four locations and there is an ongoing decline in EOO, AOO, and habitat area. The population is also projected to decline as a result of the declining distribution and threat from an invasive tree species.  

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species is narrowly restricted to Mpumulanga Province in South Africa where it is known from only a few small colonies. These are located in Klipbankspruit near Sabie, Mount Sheba Nature Reserve, and in the Morgenzon Forestry area at the top of Robber’s Pass near Pilgrim’s Rest. It was also recorded from Sterkspruit Nature Reserve (Pringle et al. 1994, Woodhall 2005, Henning et al. 2009). The extent of occurrence (EOO) of this species is estimated as no more than 400 km2 and its area of occupancy is considerably smaller (estimated as less than 50 km2) since the species only inhabits rocky areas in montane grasslands and forests within the EOO.

Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Mpumalanga)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:50
Number of Locations:4
Lower elevation limit (metres):1800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The Cloud Copper is rare and extremely localized within its restricted distribution. Henning et al. (2009) state that you cannot expect to encounter more than 20 specimens flying on any one day and that the colony at Robber's Pass consists of about 200 specimens emerging annually. The population is suspected to be reduced by more than 50% in the future as a result of the decline in area of occupancy (AOO), extent of occurrence (EOO), habitat quality, and the introduction of an invasive tree species which is further reducing the extent of the species' habitat (Henning et al. 2009).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The habitat is primarily low rocky ridges in mistbelt montane grassland interspersed with Afromontane forest (Pringle et al. 1994, Woodhall 2005). This habitat only occurs above 1,800 m (Henning et al. 2009). Males establish territories on flat areas above rocky ridges. Females are usually found below the ridges and spend a great deal of time walking on the ground or basking in the sun (Pringle et al. 1994). The larval food plant is thought to be Rotheca hirsuta (Lamiaceae) (Henning et al. 2009).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The tiny, several hundred metre long Robbers Pass colony is limited to a ridge with an infestation of the invasive tree species Acacia mearnsii (Fabaceae). This is also not far from the Trout Hideaway colony. The vegetation in the habitat of this species is classed as Endangered (Henning et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This butterfly is found in the Sterkspruit Nature Reserve and near the Mount Sheba Nature Reserve, but no species-specific conservation measures are currently in place for this species. Henning et al. (2009) suggest the following conservation measures: "Population levels and habitat quality should be monitored regularly. There should be no further habitat encroachment due to either plantation forestry or infestation of alien trees. The latter should be removed. Plantation forestry should be subject to environmental impact assessments. Autecological studies are needed."

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.3. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Future ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Acacia mearnsii ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.3. Indirect ecosystem effects

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Henning, G.A., Terblanche, R.F. and Ball, J.B. 2009. South African Red Data Book: butterflies. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Pringle, E.L.L., Henning, G.A. and Ball, J.B. 1994. Pennington's butterflies of Southern Africa. Struik Winchester, Cape Town.

Woodhall, S. 2005. Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa. Struik, Cape Town.

Citation: Larsen, T.B. 2011. Aloeides nubilus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T890A13089362. . Downloaded on 23 July 2018.
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