Publications (FIS)

Extensively managed or abandoned urban green spaces and their habitat potential for butterflies

authored by
Christoffer Lange-Kabitz, Michael Reich, Asmus Zoch

Urban green spaces are often subject to intensive management and therefore only provide habitat for very few plant and animal species. Many studies have already proven that less intensive management of near-natural grassland habitats can increase species diversity, for example of butterflies. However, there is still a lack of knowledge as to what extent less intensive management of urban green spaces can promote urban butterfly diversity. Therefore, we examined parameters that determine the number of butterfly species in less maintained or even abandoned urban green spaces. We expected butterfly species richness and observation numbers to be affected by different management regimes. Butterfly surveys were carried out on 56 sites in the city of Hannover, Germany, in three consecutive years. The sites were subject to different management regimes. We explored parameters such as area size, the diversity of nectar plant species and habitat diversity for each site. A total of 34 species were recorded, with a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 17 species per site and year. The extreme drought and heat in 2018 clearly influenced the results of our study and this was reflected in massive decreases of observation numbers for some species. Less intensive management showed preferable effects in comparison to intensive management, but area size and nectar plants were more important factors influencing butterfly species richness and number of observations. Our results suggest that site parameters such as area size, nectar plant species richness or number of habitat types had stronger influences on butterflies than variations of extensive management. We conclude that less intensive urban green space management for good butterfly habitats is not a question of grazing, mowing or temporary abandonment, but instead must aim to increase nectar plant and habitat diversity.

Institute of Environmental Planning
External Organisation(s)
University of Mannheim
Basic and applied ecology
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
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