Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 621–638 | Cite as

How urbanization affects multiple dimensions of biodiversity in tropical butterfly assemblages

  • Cristiano Agra IserhardEmail author
  • Leandro Duarte
  • Noemy Seraphim
  • André Victor Lucci Freitas
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Urban Biodiversity


We evaluated how the taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversities of butterflies and their community-weighted traits are affected by urbanization in the southeastern Brazilian Atlantic Forest. For this purpose, a dataset of Nymphalidae species distributed across 15 urban, semiurban, and rural fragments was analyzed. Urbanization was defined by a set of environmental variables. Furthermore, the total area of each fragment was also considered in the analyses but did not influence the results, in which disturbance level and patch connectivity drove the environmental variation across the urban matrix. Species diversity increased towards the more connected fragments, while phylogenetic and functional diversity did not vary in relation to urbanization. A high forewing:hindwing ratio and the frequency of tiger-like wings were positively related to the urban fragments, while a low forewing:hindwing ratio and iridescent wings were related to the semiurban and rural fragments. The suitability of highly interconnected rural habitats for the maintenance of butterfly diversity was corroborated as expected. Nonetheless, our results also showed that semiurban fragments preserved the ecologically relevant traits of butterflies related to forested habitats, expressed in butterfly groups possibly linked with dispersal capability to avoid predation. Careful management of semiurban fragments and urban landscaping, including highly structured and native vegetation outside urban parks, may increase the functional and taxonomic diversities or at least maintain the current levels of functionality in the urban matrix. Thus, it is possible to preserve the biological diversity of native fauna and flora and recover relevant ecosystem services, ensuring the conservation of Neotropical urban centers.


Functional traits Phylogenetic diversity Semiurban sites Taxonomic diversity Urban ecology 



AVLF thanks Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (Grant 303834/2015-3), the National Science Foundation (DEB-1256742) and Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Grants 2011/50225-3 and 2012/50260-6). LDSD research activities have been supported by the CNPq Productivity Fellowship (Grant 307886/2015-8). This publication is part of the Rede Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Lepidópteros SisBiota-Brasil/CNPq (563332/2010-7). CAI, LDSD and AVLF research activities have been developed in the context of the Institutos Nacionais de Ciência e Tecnologia in Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation (EECBio), supported by MCTIC/CNPq (Proc. 465610/2014-5) and Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Goiás.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristiano Agra Iserhard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leandro Duarte
    • 2
  • Noemy Seraphim
    • 3
    • 4
  • André Victor Lucci Freitas
    • 4
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Departamento de Ecologia, Zoologia e Genética, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de PelotasPelotasBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia de São PauloCampinasBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de Biologia Animal and Museu de ZoologiaUniversidade Estadual de CampinasCampinasBrazil

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