Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (1): 22272.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022272

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Patterns and environmental drivers of the butterfly diversity in the western region of Qinling Mountains

Chao Zhang, Juan Li, Haiyun Cheng, Jiachong Duan, Zhao Pan*()   

  1. Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Application, School of Life Sciences, Institute of Life Science and Green Development,Hebei University, Baoding, Hebei 071002
  • Received:2022-05-17 Accepted:2022-07-11 Online:2023-01-20 Published:2022-09-19
  • Contact: *Zhao Pan, E-mail:


Aims: The present work aims to analyze the environmental drivers of diversity in the butterfly community in the western Qinling Mountains.

Methods: In the autumn of 2020 and spring and summer of 2021, we investigated butterfly diversity in the western region of Qinling Mountains using line transects across multiple habitat types in 15 sampling areas. We used trend and extrapolation analyses for estimating α diversity, and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and cluster analyses for β diversity. For determining drivers of butterfly diversity, we fit environmental factors to diversity indices using a generalized additive model (GAM).

Results: We observed a total of 8,898 individuals representing 169 species, 84 genera, and 5 families. Of these families, the highest number of individuals were from Pieridae (N = 3,671), and the most number of species were from Nymphalidae (N = 80). We found that α diversity was highest during the summer and in coniferous and broad-leaved forests. For β diversity, we found the highest degree of similarity between coniferous and broad-leaved forest and deciduous broad-leaved forest, the low similarity between seasons, and that species are concentrated in spring and summer but relatively dispersed in autumn. The GAM fitted curves demonstrated several key relationships between environmental factors and butterfly diversity, including: (1) plant heterogeneity was correlated with butterfly community diversity; (2) an ambient temperature between 24℃ and 30℃ underlined a higher Pielou evenness index and a more stable butterfly community structure; and (3) humidity between 70% and 85% was associated with a higher Simpson index.

Conclusion: Butterfly community composition and diversity in the western region of Qinling Mountains were closely related to habitat type and have a distinct chronological relationship with seasons. Plant cover, abundance, humidity, and temperature are important factors in maintaining the diversity of butterfly species on a regional scale.

Key words: butterfly, species diversity, community composition, habitat, season, Qinling Mountains