Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 1131–1147 | Cite as

Urban parks: refuges for tropical butterflies in Southeast Asia?

  • Kong-Wah Sing
  • Wan F. A. Jusoh
  • Nor Rasidah Hashim
  • John-James WilsonEmail author


Rapid economic development has accelerated urbanisation and biodiversity loss in Southeast Asia. Studies of urban ecology have suggested urban parks can be effective refuges for wildlife in temperate regions, but their effectiveness as refuges in rapidly urbanising tropical regions is understudied. We examined the species diversity of butterflies in urban parks in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and investigated the relationships between butterfly species richness and three park variables: i) park size, ii) distance from the central business district and iii) park age. Standardised butterfly sampling was conducted across different microhabitat types at each park: i) groves, ii) hedges, iii) flowerbeds and iv) unmanaged areas. We recorded 572 butterflies belonging to 60 species (97 % considered common) from five families. Although species richness was positively correlated with park size and age and negatively correlated with distance from the central business district; the correlations were weak and not statistically significant. However, species richness of host-specialist species was significantly positively correlated with park size and age. The highest species richness (65 % of observed species) was recorded in the unmanaged microhabitat. It is likely that both park planting scheme and the presence of early successional plants in unmanaged microhabitat led to highest butterfly species richness in parks that contained all four microhabitat types. Whether a diverse planting scheme and increased size and number of unmanaged areas in urban parks can improve the ability of parks to sustain populations of rare butterflies in the face of future urbanisation remains to be seen.


Biodiversity Cities Lepidoptera Peninsular Malaysia Species richness Urbanisation 



This study was supported by the University of Malaya (research grant RP003D-13SUS to JJW). The authors would like to thank Kuala Lumpur City Hall for their support and assistance through the Department of Landscape and Recreation (Nik Adlin bin Hussain and Abd Razak bin Ahmad). Jisming See Shi Wei and Daniel Kong Wye Lup provided laboratory assistance. Brandon Mong Guo Jie helped WFAJ with field sampling in Taman Bukit Jalil.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kong-Wah Sing
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wan F. A. Jusoh
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nor Rasidah Hashim
    • 4
  • John-James Wilson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Museum of Zoology, Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Ecology and Biodiversity Program, Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  3. 3.World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia)Petaling JayaMalaysia
  4. 4.Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and MathematicsInternational University of Malaya-WalesKuala LumpurMalaysia

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