Protected species of butterflies (Lepidoptera) in the National Nature Park “Velyky Lug”

  • K. K. Goloborodko Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University
  • V. Mahina Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University
Keywords: Lepidoptera, protected species of butterflies, National Nature Park “Velyky Lug”


Velyky Lug is a unique natural complex which has a large biogeographical, ecological, environmental, historical and recreational value. The National Nature Park “Velyky Lug” was only created as recently as 2006.The park is located in Zaporizhzhya region, 15–18 km south of the city Zaporizhzhya, within the limits of floodplain area of the Dnepr river, which broadens to a width of over 20 kmbetween Bilen’ke and Vasilivka (north-eastern part of the Kakhovskoe reservoir). This enormous expansion of the floodplain (about 80,000 ha) which is situated between the Dnepr river and its tributary the Kins’ka was in historical times was called the Kin’ski Floodplain or Great Meadow. In modern times this territory is almost completely flooded by the waters of the Kakhovskoe reservoir. Remnants of natural habitats have been preserved along the river banks – in the form of little valleys and ravines which extend all the shore and also islands which appeared in 1956 when the reservoir was flooded. The overall area of the park “Velyky Lug” is 16,756 ha. Within the territory of the park “Velyky Lug” we have recorded 27 species of Lepidoptera which have various levels of conservation status. The taxonomical structure of the complex varies and included representatives of all basic families of moth and day butterflies which have species that are protected by law. In a taxonomical relation this complex is formed by the representatives of 11 families (Zygaenidae, Saturniidae, Sphingidae, Noctuidae, Arctiidae, Hesperiidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Satyridae, Lycaenidae). Zoogeographical analysis of the species that are protected in the territory of the park can be classified into 5 basic groups (Palearctic – 26%, Pontokazach – 26%, Mediterranean– 22%, Eurosiberian – 15%, European – 11%). Analysis of the biotopic advantages of the protected Lepidoptera species present in the territory of the park showed representatives from all 6 ecological groups which are included in the Lepidoptera fauna of Central Europe. The ecological structure appears highly interesting: xerothermophilous-1 – 46%, mesophilous-1 – 18%, xerothermophilous-2 – 15%, mesophilous-2 – 11%, hygrophilous – 4%, ubiquitous – 4%. Analysis of modern threats to the existence of Lepidoptera within park area reveals the following factors: erosion of the shores of Kakhovskoe reservoir, overgrazing by live-stock, recreational overload and artificial afforestation. Most species (45%) that are protected in the territory of the park and included in the IUCN Red List have status of vulnerable (VU). Hylis hyppophaes (Esper, [1793]) is the only species of conservation importance in the park which has expanded its range in Ukraine in the last 50 years. One of main terms of conditions for the survival of rare and vanishing species, including Lepidoptera, is creation of national red lists (for example, Red Book of Ukraine). 29% species of Lepidoptera, included in the Red Book of Ukraine have been recorded in the territory of the “Velyky Lug” park. Analysis of the categories of these species confirms that Zygaena laeta (Hübner, 1790) alone is classified as a vanishing species on the Ukrainian level, the others being classified as vulnerable (53%) and rare (41%). Among the species included in the Red Book of Ukraine, those for which the park has special significance on account of the stability and high numbers of their populations within the park are – Acherontia atropos (Linnaeus, 1758), Zerynthia polyxena ([Denis et Schiffermüller, 1775]) and Plebeius pylaon (Fisher von Waldheim, 1832). 


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