Short Communication


Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 March 2017 | 9(3): 9988–10003





Status, abundance and habitat preference of butterflies (Insecta: Lepidoptera) in Chittagong University Campus, Chittagong, Bangladesh


Ibrahim Khalil Al Haidar 1, M. Mizanur Rahman 2, M. Farid Ahsan 3 & M. Ariful Islam 4


1,2,3,4 Department of Zoology, University of Chittagong, Chittagong 4331, Bangladesh

1 (corresponding author), 2, 3, 4



doi: | ZooBank:


Editor: Sanjay Sondhi, Titli Trust, Dehradun, India. Date of publication: 26 March 2017 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 2213 | Received 24 August 2015 | Final received 05 October 2016 | Finally accepted 19 February 2017


Citation: Haidar, I.K.A., M.M. Rahman, M.F. Ahsan & M.A. Islam (2017). Status, abundance and habitat preference of butterflies (Insecta: Lepidoptera) in Chittagong University Campus, Chittagong, Bangladesh. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(3): 9988–10003;


Copyright: © Haidar et al. 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: None.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgments: We gratefully acknowledge Mr. Jadab Kumar Biswas and Mohammad Abdul Wahed Chowdhury, Assistant Professor; Department of Zoology, University of Chittagong, Chittagong; Ahsan Uddin Chowdhury, Senior Executive Officer, Area Office, Janata Bank Ltd., Chittagong; M. Tarik Kabir, Project Assistant (Wildlife Biologist), White-rumped Vulture Conservation in Bangladesh Project, IUCN; and M. Manirul Islam, Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Officer, Rajshahi divisions; for their cordial help and suggestions during the study. We are grateful to Mr. Amit Kumer Neogi and Les Day for their help in confirming the newly recorded butterflies in Bangladesh. We are thankful to Tanzina Alam, Ferdaous Alam, Farzana Rahman, Nusrat Jahan Tania, Priyanka Rani Banick, Suravi Ahmed, Rubayat Jahan Trisha, Anwar Hossen, Kalyan Mondal and Tauhidul Islam for their participation and cooperation during the field study. We gratefully acknowledge all members of the Chittagong University Birds Club (CUBC) for their cordial support.



Abstract: A study was conducted on the butterflies of the Chittagong University Campus (CUC), Bangladesh between March 2014 and May 2015. A total of 142 species of butterflies belonging to 87 genera and six families (Hesperiidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae and Nymphalidae) were recorded from the CUC during the study period. Family Nymphalidae comprised the highest number of species followed by Lycaenidae, Hesperiidae, Pieridae, Papilionidae and Riodinidae. The abundance of this species stated in terms of very common, common, uncommon, rare and very rare. The butterflies used different types of habitat (viz., grass land, crop land, open forest, scrub forest, dense forest and bamboo patch) and among all, scrub forests were the most preferred habitat. Mud puddling of 35 species were also observed. Five species of butterflies (Ampittia dioscorides, Matapa purpurascens, Polytremis eltola, Unkana ambasa and Ypthima ceylonica) were recorded for the first time in Bangladesh.


Keywords: Abundance, Bangladesh, butterfly, Chittagong University Campus, habitat, status.



Butterflies are beautiful flying creatures of nature. Since the early 18th Century, 19,238 species of butterflies have been documented worldwide (Heppner 1998). The exact number of extant species of butterfly is not known but there are about 16,823 species spread throughout the world (Landing 1984); of which 1,318 species have been recorded in India (Varshney & Smetacek 2015), 643 species in Nepal (Nepal Safari 2016), 247 species in Sri Lanka (van der Poorten & van der Poorten 2016), and 1,014 species in Myanmar (SST Tourism 2011).

Butterflies are not well documented in Bangladesh. Baksha & Choudhury (1983, 1985) identified respectively 17 species from the family Pieridae and 16 species from Papilionidae. Larsen (2004) annotated a list of butterflies and mentioned 236 species from Bangladesh. Ahmad et al. (2009) compiled 148 species in the country. Chowdhury & Hossain (2013) listed 225 species from Bangladesh and forecast that the number of species may exceed 400. So, more studies are needed to list the total number of butterflies in the country as new records are being added periodically.

In Bangladesh, some regional checklists have also been prepared. For instance, Khan (2001) accounted for 49 species from Tangail District; Chowdhury & Mohiuddin (2003) reported 121 species from the eastern border (Sylhet and Moulvi Bazar districts of Sylhet division, and Chittagong and four hill districts in Chittagong division). Hossain et al. (2003) recorded 51 species from Jahangirnagar University Campus. Khandokar et al. (2014) recorded 160 species from Lawachara National Park, Moulavibazar.

Alam & Ullah (1995) reported 22 species of butterfly from the Chittagong University Campus (CUC) and since their publication, no further studies have been conducted. Hence, it is needed to study the butterfly fauna of the CUC, which may also enrich the checklist of the country. On the other hand, status, abundance and types of habitat used by butterflies are useful to document in order to conserve these creatures and their habitats, which play a significant role in the ecosystem. Hence this study was designed with the major aims to know: (i) status of the recorded species in the CUC, (ii) abundance of occurrence of the butterfly families, and (iii) the species-wise habitat preference in the area.





Materials and Methods

Study Area

The CUC (Fig. 1) is situated at Zubra Village under Fatehpur Union Parishad of Hathazari Upazila (sub-district) in Chittagong District, Bangladesh (22027’30”–22029’0”N & 91046’30”–91047’45”E). It is about 22km north of Chittagong City, 3km southwest of Hathazari Upazila headquarters and about 6km east from the Bay of Bengal. The CUC is surrounded by hills of the Chittagong hill region and bisected by a small stream. It is a large area compared to the other universities of the country comprising 710ha (1,754 acres) of land. The diversity of plants and animals is quite rich in the CUC compared to other universities of Bangladesh. It is covered with about 72% hills, lakes, ponds and plain lands and valleys are 15.9m above sea level (Islam et al. 1979). The soils of all profiles are characterized by coarse texture (38–73 % sand fraction), high bulk density (1.15–1.32 mgmˉ³), low organic-C content (0.26–1.73 %), and acid soil reaction (pHH2Ovaried from 4.44 to 5.52 and pHKCl from 3.57 to 4.90) (Akhtaruzzaman et al. 2014).

There are three seasons in the CUC like elsewhere in Bangladesh (Ahmad 1968): Summer (MarchMay), Monsoon (JuneOctober) and Winter (NovemberFebruary). About 60% land area of the CUC is covered by steep and very steep hills (Hossain et al. 2013); although it is composed of hills, valleys and plains. The vegetation is semi-evergreen (Ahsan & Khanom 2005). A total of 665 plant species under 126 families and 404 genera are found in the CUC, of which 550 are dicotyledons and 115 are monocotyledons (Alam & Pasha 1999).






Field study

The study on butterflies was conducted in the CUC for 15 months between March 2014 and May 2015. A total of 60 days’ observation was done during this study period. Field observations were done throughout the day but emphasis was given to bright sunny periods of the day when butterflies are more active. Opportunistic records of butterflies have also been included in the list. The whole study area was divided into six sites for convenience of the study (Fig. 1). Different types of habitat used by butterflies (viz., grass land, crop land, open forest: composed of trees, shrubs and grasses with discontinuous canopy, scrub forest: shrub land and bushy jungles, dense forest and bamboo patches) have also been recorded during the study.

Butterflies were surveyed through the existing roads, trails, streams and bridle paths for a whole day, once a week and covering all the sites of the CUC in a cyclic order in each month.



Species Identification

During surveys for butterflies, the species were recorded in a notebook and cryptic specimens were photographed using cameras (Canon EOS 600D with 75–300 mm IS II lens and Canon EOS 60D with 300mm prime lens) for confirming the species identities. Collection and killing of the specimens were avoided. The individuals were identified following the keys developed by Marshall & de Niceville (1883), Bingham (1905), Evans (1932) and Bashar (2014); and field guides (e.g., Chowdhury & Hossain 2013; Kehimkar 2013). In this study, butterflies were assessed as very common (vc), common (c), uncommon (uc), rare (r) and very rare (vr) (Table 1).








One-hundred-and-forty-two species of butterflies belonging to 87 genera and six families (Table 2) were recorded from the CUC during the study period. Family Nymphalidae comprised the highest number of species (47 species i.e., 33.1%) and Riodinidae comprised the lowest (1 species i.e., 0.7%) (Table 3). Of the recorded species, 16.9% were very common, 22.5% common, 20.4% uncommon, 19.7% rare and 20.4% were very rare. Most of very common and common species belonged to the family Nymphalidae, uncommon to Lycaenidae, rare species to Hesperiidae and very rare species belonged to Hesperiidae and Lycaenidae (Table 3).

The CUC is an ecotone area connecting hilly forest with plain land and comprises grassland, cropland, open forest, scrub forest, dense forest, bamboo patch and hill streams for mud puddling. Hence, the butterflies get opportunities to use different types of habitat in the CUC (Figs. 2 & 3). Thirty-five (24.6%) of 142 species of butterflies used all kinds of habitat. Eighty-one species preferred multiple habitats. Out of these 81 species, one species (Pachliopta hector: Papilionidae) preferred five types of habitat, eight species (5.6%) chose four types, 27 species (19%) used three types, 44 species (31%) favored two types and the rest 27 species (19%) were observed only in a single habitat.

Mud puddling was observed in 35 species (Fig. 3), which comprised five families; and among them Lycaenidae accounted the highest number of species (15 species, 42.9%) and Hesperiidae the lowest number (2 species, 5.7%).

During this study, Ampittia dioscorides Bush Hopper, Matapa purpurascens Purple Branded Redeye and Unkana ambasa Hoary Palmer under the family Hesperiidae were recorded for the first time in Bangladesh. The record of Ampittia dioscorides has been confirmed by our sightings in Bangladesh on 18 April 2014 (22027’43”N & 91047’30”E; elevation 14m); M. purpurascens was recorded for the first time in Bangladesh on 31 October 2014 (22027’59”N & 91047’16”E; 19m); and U. ambasa was recorded for the first time in Bangladesh on 10 June 2014 (22027’54”N & 91047’21”E; 17m).

Ypthima ceylonica (Nymphalidae) was observed on 05 March 2015 (22027’47”N & 91047’29”E; 26m) and Polytremis eltola (Hesperiidae) was observed on 03 March 2015 (22027’41”N & 91047’43”E; 18m) and were also confirmed as new records for Bangladesh during the study. These five new records of butterfly species have not been included in any published literature about butterflies in Bangladesh (e.g., Chowdhury & Hossain 2013; Larsen 2004; IUCN Bangladesh 2015), and hence are new additions to Bangladesh’s butterfly fauna.












Discussion and Conclusion



A total of 142 species of butterfly in the CUC are very significant compared to the previous list of 22 species by Alam & Ullah (1995). The CUC is situated at the edge of hill forest just joining the Shitakunda forest line with plain land of Hathazari. Hence, the CUC supports the unique habitats for butterflies, viz., grassland, cropland, open forest, scrub forest, dense forest, bamboo patches, lakes, ponds and sandy hill streams. Among them, scrub forest is very important habitat for butterflies that supports 88.7% of the species (126 species) in the CUC (Fig. 3). In the CUC, the butterflies that preferred three and/or more types of habitat were more abundant than those that preferred only one or two types of habitat.

Very interestingly, 59.2% (29 [13 VC and 16 C] of 49) of nymphalid butterflies were very common and common in the CUC, because 49% (24 of 49 species) of them used all possible kinds of habitat. On the other hand, 79.4% (27 of 34 species) hesperiid butterflies preferred single type or two types of habitat in the CUC and 79.4% (27 [7 VR, 11 R and 9 UC] of 34) of them have been assessed as very rare, rare and uncommon. So, conservation and development of butterfly habitats will determine the future diversity of butterflies in the CUC.






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