Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 171–182 | Cite as

Butterflies in the city: a review of urban diurnal Lepidoptera

  • Lorena Ramírez-Restrepo
  • Ian MacGregor-ForsEmail author


Human migration to urban centers has resulted in diverse environmental disturbances that affect biodiversity. Although urbanization has been highlighted as one of the main drivers of biodiversity endangerment, this topic is still poorly studied in many countries. In order to establish the status quo of the ecology of butterflies in urban centers, we gathered publications focused on urban butterflies (Lepidoptera). We compiled a total of 173 studies from 37 countries and more than 110 urban areas, including published papers and theses (1956–2015). Most papers (69 %) addressed ecological topics, 14 % were focused on biological conservation, and 17 % corresponded to species lists. In summary, most studies revealed a negative impact of urbanization intensity on butterfly diversity (richness and abundance). In fact, we found studies reporting local extinctions due to urbanization, highlighting the causes related to them. The study of charismatic urban wildlife groups, such as butterflies, is a promising field, as there are still important gaps in our comprehension of the ecological patterns and processes that occur in urban areas. Undoubtedly, understanding the response of butterflies to urbanization will aid in the development of urban biodiversity management, planning, and conservation strategies worldwide, which together with knowledge of other wildlife groups and socioeconomic variables, will lead us to more sustainable, livable, and biodiverse cities.


Papilionoidea Hesperioidea Urbanization Urban ecology Literature review 



We are most grateful to Profs. Gonzalo Halffter Salas and Sergio Guevara Sada for their ideas, which greatly enhanced our manuscript, as well as Prof. Nancy McIntyre and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions, and Dr. Keith Willmott for proofreading the manuscript. This study was partially funded by the Dirección General del Instituto de Ecología, A.C. through the “Proyectos de Investigación de Alto Valor Estratégico para la Sociedad” (project: “Patrones ecológicos y percepción social de la diversidad biológica que habita en la ciudad de Xalapa: Un enfoque multidisciplinario”). LRR was supported with Ph.D. scholarships from CONACYT (213179/244461 Convocatoria 290649), and an Educational Condonable Credit by COLCIENCIAS (Convocatoria 568-2012).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Red de Ambiente y SustentabilidadInstituto de Ecología A.C.XalapaMexico

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