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

Abstract

Context

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.

Objectives

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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Acknowledgments

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).

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Correspondence to Théophile Olivier.

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Olivier, T., Schmucki, R., Fontaine, B. et al. Butterfly assemblages in residential gardens are driven by species’ habitat preference and mobility. Landscape Ecol 31, 865–876 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-015-0299-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-015-0299-9

Keywords

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