Butterfly conservation within cities: a landscape scale approach integrating natural habitats and abandoned fields in central Mexico
Barranco León, María de las Nieves
Badano, Ernesto Ivan
"Growing urbanization and the expansion of the agricultural frontier in tropical ecosystems have generated patchy landscapes composed of remnants of natural habitats and abandoned fields. This scenario offers an opportunity to develop urban reserves in order to preserve local fauna in expanding cities. We propose that if native animals are able to use these two habitat types, reserves composed of a mixture of natural habitats and abandoned fields would contain more diversity than reserves composed only of natural habitats. However, to be useful for conservation, these reserves must harbor specialized organisms that depend on natural habitats. To test this proposal, we focused on diurnal butterflies inhabiting an urban reserve located within the city of Puebla (Mexico), which contains relics of oak forests and abandoned fields. Butterfly assemblages were sampled and compared in the different habitat types of the reserve. The data were then pooled and analyzed for the reserve as a whole. These analyses discriminated between habitat generalist and forest specialist butterflies. Our results indicated that the different habitat types of the reserve harbor different forest specialist butterflies, which in turn enhanced the diversity of forest-dwelling butterflies at the landscape scale. This suggests that the inclusion of abandoned fields together with natural habitats in the design of urban protected areas could help to preserve at least part of the regional biodiversity."
Land use change