Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (8): 993-1002.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020065

• Special Feature: Butterfly Diversity Monitoring • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Diversity of butterfly communities in Jimusaer County, Xinjiang

Zhifeng Xu1,2, Wen Zhong1,2, Dongkang Zhang1, Hongying Hu1,2,*()   

  1. 1 College of Life Sciences and Technology, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046
    2 Xinjiang Key Laboratory of Biological Resources and Genetic Engineering, Urumqi 830046
  • Received:2020-03-02 Accepted:2020-06-22 Online:2020-08-20 Published:2020-09-29
  • Contact: Hongying Hu

Abstract:

Butterflies are indicator species that are widely used in biodiversity monitoring and environmental quality assessments. Here, we assessed the diversity of the butterfly community in Jimusaer County, Xinjiang, to guide recommendations for the protection of local butterfly diversity and environmental monitoring. We surveyed the species and community diversity of butterflies in five different habitat types, including Piedmont desert, farmland, mountain grassland, mountain forest, and subalpine meadow in Jimusar County, Xinjiang using the line transect sampling method from May to August in 2016-2018. We collected a total of 4,401 individuals belonging to 26 genera, 7 families, and 38 species. Nymphalidae was the dominant family with 9 genera and 12 species. Pieridae had the largest number of individuals, accounting for 55.01% of the total recorded. Pamassiidae, Papilioidae, and Hesperiidae had the fewest number of species and individuals—each family had only one species, which were rarely observed in the study region. By analysing and comparing the diversity and similarity of butterfly communities in different habitats, we found that diversity was greatest in sub-alpine meadows and lowest in Piedmont desert. Mountain forest, mountain grassland, and farmland had intermediate levels of diversity. The similarity coefficient was highest between mountain forests and sub-alpine meadows (0.77) and lowest between Piedmont deserts and mountain grasslands (0.37). Butterfly species richness and diversity increased with elevation. We also found that the number of butterfly species and individuals changed over the course of a year and were highest from May to July. The total number of individuals decreased over the three-year study period. Our results show that butterfly community composition and diversity are closely related to habitat types. Therefore, protecting the ecological environment, maintaining a diversity of plant communities, and reducing the degree of human disturbance in the region are key to conserving butterfly diversity.

Key words: butterfly monitoring, habitat, biodiversity, population dynamics, environmental protection