During 30 years of unprecedented urbanization, plant diversity in Shenzhen, a young megacity in southern China, has increased dramatically. Although strongly associated with plant diversity, butterfly diversity generally declines with urbanization, but this has not been investigated in Shenzhen. Considering the speed of urbanization in Shenzhen and the large number of city parks, we investigated butterfly diversity in Shenzhen parks. We measured butterfly species richness in four microhabitats (groves, hedges, flowerbeds, and unmanaged areas) across 10 parks and examined the relationship with three park variables: park age, park size, and distance from the central business district. Butterflies were identified based on wing morphology and DNA barcoding. We collected 1933 butterflies belonging to 74 species from six families; 20% of the species were considered rare. Butterfly species richness showed weak negative correlations with park age and distance from the central business district, but the positive correlation with park size was statistically significant (p = 0.001). Among microhabitat types, highest species richness was recorded in unmanaged areas. Our findings are consistent with others in suggesting that to promote urban butterfly diversity it is necessary to make parks as large as possible and to set aside areas for limited management. In comparison to neighbouring cities, Shenzhen parks have high butterfly diversity.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.