Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (2): 219-229, 2011 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2011.030

How to increase the value of urban areas for butterfly conservation? A lesson from Prague nature reserves and parks

Martin KONVICKA1,2, Tomas KADLEC2,3,4
1 Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 31, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic; e-mail: konva333@gmail.com
2 Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
3 Faculty of Sciences, Charles University, Vinicna 7, 128 44 Prague, Czech Republic
4 Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Kamycka 129, 165 21 Prague, Czech Republic

Cities contain only a low representation of natural and semi-natural habitats, existing in fragments surrounded by built-up areas. In 2003-2004, we surveyed butterflies and Zygaenidae moths in 21 reserves and 4 parks within the city of Prague, Czech Republic, situated from the periphery to city centre. A total of 85 species (47% of the Czech fauna of the study groups) was detected, 22 of them being of conservation concern. Ordination analyses of the local assemblages revealed that the richest sites were large, situated far from the city centre, on alkaline bedrocks, south- to southwest oriented, and hosting high numbers of vegetation types and vascular plant species. We then used generalised linear models to fit responses of individual species to the main ordination gradient, corresponding to increasing urbanisation. Out of 60 species that met criteria for the modelling, none responded positively to urbanisation. Twenty displayed negative linear response; these urban avoiders contained a surplus of mesophilous species presumably preferring rural landscapes. Further 29 species (suburban adaptable) responded in domed manners, peaking at the city periphery. Prevailing among them were xerophilous specialists inhabiting large grassland reserves at the Prague outskirts. Finally, eleven urban tolerant species did not respond to urbanisation at all, containing three highly mobile species, three xerothermophilous specialists, and five species utilising shrubs or trees and finding suitable conditions even in urban parks. Suburban adaptable butterflies apparently benefit from such suburban environments as gardens, road or railway verges, collectively increasing the connectivity of remnants of seminatural habitats. The fact that arboreal species persist even in urban parks, whereas common grassland species are absent there, implies that the quality of urban habitats might be increased by a more sensitive management of urban green spaces, such as leaving aside small temporary fallows or adapting lawns mowing schemes.

Keywords: Insect conservation, habitat fragments, Lepidoptera, reserves, urbanisation, Zygaenidae

Received: March 25, 2010; Accepted: November 29, 2010; Published: April 5, 2011

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