Landscape Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 865–876 | Cite as

Butterfly assemblages in residential gardens are driven by species’ habitat preference and mobility

  • Théophile Olivier
  • Reto Schmucki
  • Benoit Fontaine
  • Anne Villemey
  • Frédéric Archaux
Research Article



Understanding the factors contributing to maintaining biodiversity is crucial to mitigate the impact of anthropogenic disturbances. Representing large proportions of green area in highly modified landscapes, residential gardens are often seen as local habitats that can contribute to larger networks of suitable environments at the landscape scale.


We investigated the impact of the landscape context on butterfly communities observed in residential gardens, taking into account garden characteristics, land-use types and presence of linear features in the surrounding landscape. We examined how species traits affected butterflies’ response to landscape context and habitat quality.


We performed a cross-scale study, based on citizen science data documenting butterfly species composition and abundance in 920 gardens across France. We examined the effect of garden quality, the area of different land-use types and the length of linear elements measured at three scales within the surrounding landscape. Species were grouped according to their habitat preference and mobility.


Urbanization negatively affected total species richness and the abundance of butterfly in each group. This was related to declining habitat quality and reduced area of suitable habitat in the surrounding landscape. The magnitude of this effect, however, was negatively correlated with mobility, a trait related to habitat preference. The spatial scale at which landscape context best explained variation in butterfly abundance changed with species’ habitat preference.


This study highlights the importance of preserving high quality habitats in altered landscapes and considering species’ mobility and habitat preference when assessing the impact of landscapes on butterfly communities.


Lepidoptera Landscape Connectivity Dispersal Habitat quality Land-use Citizen science Species traits Urbanization 



We thank all the volunteers who spend time recording insects in their gardens and uploading their observation data. We also thank Noe Conservation, which support and feedback the volunteer network and without whom this work would not have been possible. RS is acknowledging support from the FRB and EDF SA (FRB-CESAB project LOLA-BMS). Finally many thanks to Christie Le Coeur and Karine Princé for their support and help. This study was supported by the LEVANA project funded by the French Ministry of Environment (Program DIVA 3, Contract 12-MBGD-DIVA-5-CVS-030).

Supplementary material

10980_2015_299_MOESM1_ESM.docx (48 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Théophile Olivier
    • 1
  • Reto Schmucki
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benoit Fontaine
    • 1
  • Anne Villemey
    • 3
  • Frédéric Archaux
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie et de Sciences de la Conservation (CESCO)Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN)ParisFrance
  2. 2.Centre de Synthèse et d’Analyse sur la Biodiversité (CESAB)Aix-en-ProvenceFrance
  3. 3.Institut de Recherche en Sciences et Technologie pour l’Environnement et l’Agriculture (IRSTEA)Nogent-sur-VernissonFrance

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