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Butterflies in the city: a review of urban diurnal Lepidoptera

Ramírez-Restrepo, Lorena, MacGregor-Fors, Ian
Urban ecosystems 2017 v.20 no.1 pp. 171-182
Lepidoptera, biodiversity, butterflies, cities, immigration, planning, socioeconomic factors, urban areas, urbanization, wildlife
Human migration to urban centers has resulted in diverse environmental disturbances that affect biodiversity. Although urbanization has been highlighted as one of the main drivers of biodiversity endangerment, this topic is still poorly studied in many countries. In order to establish the status quo of the ecology of butterflies in urban centers, we gathered publications focused on urban butterflies (Lepidoptera). We compiled a total of 173 studies from 37 countries and more than 110 urban areas, including published papers and theses (1956–2015). Most papers (69 %) addressed ecological topics, 14 % were focused on biological conservation, and 17 % corresponded to species lists. In summary, most studies revealed a negative impact of urbanization intensity on butterfly diversity (richness and abundance). In fact, we found studies reporting local extinctions due to urbanization, highlighting the causes related to them. The study of charismatic urban wildlife groups, such as butterflies, is a promising field, as there are still important gaps in our comprehension of the ecological patterns and processes that occur in urban areas. Undoubtedly, understanding the response of butterflies to urbanization will aid in the development of urban biodiversity management, planning, and conservation strategies worldwide, which together with knowledge of other wildlife groups and socioeconomic variables, will lead us to more sustainable, livable, and biodiverse cities.