Landscape configuration and habitat complexity shape arthropod assemblage in urban parks.
ABSTRACT: The urbanization process systematically leads to the loss of biodiversity. Only certain arthropods are resilient to the urbanization process and can thrive in the novel conditions of urbanized landscapes. However, the degree to which arthropod communities survive in urban habitats depends on landscape and local effects and biological interactions (e.g., trophic interactions). In the present study, we examined the relative importance of various factors at landscape (isolation, edge density and area of surrounding greenery) and local (size of park, canopy cover, understory vegetation cover, defoliation depth, weight of dried leaves, soil temperature, soil moisture, and soil pH) spatial scales on the diversity of ants, beetles and spiders in urban parks. Our results indicated that park edge density was negatively correlated with diversity metrics in ants, beetles, and spiders in urban parks relative to the degree of proximity with the peri-urban forest. In other words, parks that located adjacent to the peri-urban forest may not necessarily have high biodiversity. The results suggested that man-made structures have been effective dispersal barriers that limit the spillover effects of ants and spiders but not the spillover of comparatively strong fliers, such as beetles. However, the area of surrounding greenery may have facilitated the colonization of forest-dependent taxa in distant parks. Large parks with reduced edge density supported a higher arthropod diversity because of the minimal edge effect and increased habitat heterogeneity. Vegetation structure consistently explained the variability of ants, beetles, and spiders, indicating that understory plant litter is crucial for providing shelters and hibernation, oviposition, and foraging sites for the major taxa in urban parks. Therefore, efforts should focus on the local management of ground features to maximize the conservation of biological control in urban landscapes.
Project description:There are only few studies that explore the ecological consequences of forest management on several organism groups. We studied the short-term effects of four forestry treatments including preparation cutting, clear-cutting, retention tree group and gap-cutting in a temperate managed forest on the assemblage structure of understory plants, enchytraeid worms, spiders and ground beetles. Here we show, that the effect of treatments on the different facets of assemblage structure was taxon-specific. Clear-cutting and retention tree group strongly impoverished enchytraeids assemblages. Even if the species richness and cover of plants increased in clear-cutting and gap-cutting, their species composition moderately changed after treatments. For spiders only their species composition was influenced by the treatments, while the response of ground beetles was slightly affected. Short-term effect of forest management interventions on biodiversity might be compensated by the dispersal (spiders, ground beetles) and resilience (plants) of organism groups, however sedentary soil organism showed high sensitivity.
Project description:Ant-aphid mutualism is known to play a key role in the structure of the arthropod community in the tree canopy, but its possible ecological effects for the forest floor are unknown. We hypothesized that aphids in the canopy can increase the abundance of ants on the forest floor, thus intensifying the impacts of ants on other arthropods on the forest floor. We tested this hypothesis in a deciduous temperate forest in Beijing, China. We excluded the aphid-tending ants Lasius fuliginosus from the canopy using plots of varying sizes, and monitored the change in the abundance of ants and other arthropods on the forest floor in the treated and control plots. We also surveyed the abundance of ants and other arthropods on the forest floor to explore the relationships between ants and other arthropods in the field. Through a three-year experimental study, we found that the exclusion of ants from the canopy significantly decreased the abundance of ants on the forest floor, but increased the abundance of beetles, although the effect was only significant in the large ant-exclusion plot (80*60 m). The field survey showed that the abundance of both beetles and spiders was negatively related to the abundance of ants. These results suggest that aphids located in the tree canopy have indirect negative effects on beetles by enhancing the ant abundance on the forest floor. Considering that most of the beetles in our study are important predators, the ant-aphid mutualism can have further trophic cascading effects on the forest floor food web.
Project description:Urbanisation is increasing worldwide and is regarded a major driver of environmental change altering local species assemblages in urban green areas. Forests are one of the most frequent habitat types in urban landscapes harbouring many native species and providing important ecosystem services. By using a multi-taxa approach covering a range of trophic ranks, we examined the influence of degree of urbanisation and forest size on the species richness and functional diversity of plants, and ground surface-active ants and spiders. We conducted field surveys in twenty-six forests in the urban region of Basel, Switzerland. We found that a species' response to urbanisation varied depending on trophic rank, habitat specificity and the diversity indices used. In plants, species richness decreased with degree of urbanisation, whereas that of both arthropod groups was not affected. However, ants and spiders at higher trophic rank showed greater shifts in species composition with increasing degree of urbanisation, and the percentage of forest specialists in both arthropod groups increased with forest size. Local abiotic site characteristics were also crucial for plant species diversity and species composition, while the structural diversity of both leaf litter and vegetation was important for the diversity of ants and spiders. Our results highlight that even small urban forests can harbour a considerable biodiversity including habitat specialists. Nonetheless, urbanisation directly and indirectly caused major shifts in species composition. Therefore, special consideration needs to be given to vulnerable species, including those with special habitat requirements. Locally adapted management practices could be a step forward to enhance habitat quality in a way to maximize diversity of forest species and thus ensure forest ecosystem functioning; albeit large-scale factors also remain important.
Project description:Urbanization is an increasingly pervasive form of land transformation that reduces biodiversity of many taxonomic groups. Beetles exhibit a broad range of responses to urbanization, likely due to the high functional diversity in this order. Carrion beetles (Order: Coleoptera, Family: Silphidae) provide an important ecosystem service by promoting decomposition of small-bodied carcasses, and have previously been found to decline due to forest fragmentation caused by urbanization. However, New York City (NYC) and many other cities have fairly large continuous forest patches that support dense populations of small mammals, and thus may harbor relatively robust carrion beetle communities in city parks. In this study, we investigated carrion beetle community composition, abundance and diversity in forest patches along an urban-to-rural gradient spanning the urban core (Central Park, NYC) to outlying rural areas. We conducted an additional study comparing the current carrion beetle community at a single suburban site in Westchester County, NY that was intensively surveyed in the early 1970's. We collected a total of 2,170 carrion beetles from eight species at 13 sites along this gradient. We report little to no effect of urbanization on carrion beetle diversity, although two species were not detected in any urban parks. <i>Nicrophorus tomentosus</i> was the most abundant species at all sites and seemed to dominate the urban communities, potentially due to its generalist habits and shallower burying depth compared to the other beetles surveyed. Variation between species body size, habitat specialization, and % forest area surrounding the surveyed sites also did not influence carrion beetle communities. Lastly, we found few significant differences in relative abundance of 10 different carrion beetle species between 1974 and 2015 at a single site in Westchester County, NY, although two of the rare species in the early 1970's were not detected in 2015. These results indicate that NYC's forested parks have the potential to sustain carrion beetle communities and the ecosystem services they provide.
Project description:Semiochemical-baited intercept traps are important tools used to collect information about the presence/absence and population dynamics of forest insects. The performance of these tools is influenced by trap location along both horizontal edge-interior and vertical understory-canopy gradients. Consequently, the development of survey and detection programs requires both the development of effective traps and semiochemical lures but also deployment protocols to guide their use. We used field trapping experiments to examine the impact of both horizontal edge-interior and vertical understory-canopy gradients and their interactions with the species richness and abundance of Buprestidae, Cerambycidae and Curculionidae. Both gradients had significant effects on the diversity and abundance of all three families collected in traps and the pattern of gradient effects differed between the two experiments. In the first experiment, traps were deployed along transects involving large (>100 m) forest gaps and in the second experiment traps transected small (ca. 15 m) forest gaps. These results were consistent with the idea that gradient effects on the abundance and diversity of these three families of forest Coleoptera are context dependent. The results of this study suggest that monitoring programs for bark and woodboring beetles should deploy traps at multiple locations along both vertical understory-canopy and horizontal edge-interior gradients.
Project description:Urbanisation is increasing worldwide and is regarded a major driver of environmental change altering local species assemblages. Private domestic gardens contribute a significant share of total green area in cities, but their biodiversity has received relatively little attention. Previous studies mainly considered plants, flying invertebrates such as bees and butterflies, and birds. By using a multi-taxa approach focused on less mobile, ground-dwelling invertebrates, we examined the influence of local garden characteristics and landscape characteristics on species richness and abundance of gastropods, spiders, millipedes, woodlice, ants, ground beetles and rove beetles. We assume that most of the species of these groups are able to complete their entire life cycle within a single garden. We conducted field surveys in thirty-five domestic gardens along a rural-urban gradient in Basel, Switzerland. Considered together, the gardens examined harboured an impressive species richness, with a mean share of species of the corresponding groups known for Switzerland of 13.9%, ranging from 4.7% in ground beetles to 23.3% in woodlice. The overall high biodiversity is a result of complementary contributions of gardens harbouring distinct species assemblages. Indeed, at the garden level, species richness of different taxonomical groups were typically not inter-correlated. The exception was ant species richness, which was correlated with those of gastropods and spiders. Generalised linear models revealed that distance to the city centre is an important driver of species richness, abundance and composition of several groups, resulting in an altered species composition in gardens in the centre of the city. Local garden characteristics were important drivers of gastropod and ant species richness, and the abundance of spiders, millipedes and rove beetles. Our study shows that domestic gardens make a valuable contribution to regional biodiversity. Thus, domestic urban gardens constitute an important part of green infrastructure, which should be considered by urban planners.
Project description:South America is undergoing a rapid and large-scale conversion of natural habitats to cultivated land. Ecosystem services still remain important but their level and sustainability are not known. We quantified predation intensity in an Argentinian agricultural landscape containing remnants of the original chaco serrano forest using artificial sentinel prey. We sought to identify the main predators and the effect of landscape configuration and maize phenology on predation pressure by invertebrate and vertebrate predators in this landscape. The most common predators were chewing insects (50.4% predation events), birds (22.7%), and ants (17.5%). Overall predation rates in forest fragments (41.6% per day) were significantly higher than in the surrounding maize fields (21.5% per day). Invertebrate predation was higher inside and at the edge of forest fragments than within fields, and did not change with increasing distance from a fragment edge, indicating a lack of spillover from the native habitat remnants to the cultivated matrix at the local scale. Distance from a continuous forest had a positive impact on predation by invertebrates and a negative impact on vertebrate predation.
Project description:Broad-leaved monocot herbs are widespread and dominant components of the shaded understories of wet neotropical forests. These understory habitats are characterized by light limitation and a constant threat of falling branches. Many shaded understory herb species have close relatives that occupy forest edges and gaps, where light availability is higher and defoliation threat is lower, creating an opportunity for comparative analysis of functional traits in order to better understand the evolutionary adaptations associated with this habitat transition. We documented ecological, morphological and ecophysiological traits of multiple herb species in six monocot families from each of these two habitats in the wet tropical rainforest at the La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. We found that a mixture of phylogenetic canalization and ecological selection for specific habitats helped explain patterns of functional traits. Understory herbs were significantly shorter and had smaller leaves than forest edge species. Although the mean number of leaves per plant and specific leaf area did not differ between the two groups, the larger leaf size of forest edge species gave them more than three times the mean plant leaf area. Measures of leaf water content and nitrogen content varied within both groups and mean values were not significantly different. Despite the high leaf nitrogen contents, the maximum photosynthetic rates of understory herbs were quite low. Measures of ? 13C as an analog of water use efficiency found significantly lower (more negative) values in understory herbs compared to forest edge species. Clonality was strongly developed in several species but did not show strong phylogenetic patterns. This study highlights many functional traits that differ between broad-leaved monocot species characteristic of understory and forest edge habitats, as well as traits that vary primarily by phylogenetic relatedness. Overall, plant functional traits do not provide a simple explanation for the relative differences in abundance for individual understory and forest edge species with some occurring in great abundance while others are relatively rare.
Project description:With accelerating rates of urbanization worldwide, a better understanding of ecological processes at the wildland-urban interface is critical to conserve biodiversity. We explored the effects of high and low-density housing developments on forest-dwelling mammals. Based on habitat characteristics, we expected a gradual decline in species abundance across forest-urban edges and an increased decline rate in higher contrast edges. We surveyed arboreal mammals in sites of high and low housing density along 600 m transects that spanned urban areas and areas turn on adjacent native forest. We also surveyed forest controls to test whether edge effects extended beyond our edge transects. We fitted models describing richness, total abundance and individual species abundance. Low-density housing developments provided suitable habitat for most arboreal mammals. In contrast, high-density housing developments had lower species richness, total abundance and individual species abundance, but supported the highest abundances of an urban adapter (Trichosurus vulpecula). We did not find the predicted gradual decline in species abundance. Of four species analysed, three exhibited no response to the proximity of urban boundaries, but spilled over into adjacent urban habitat to differing extents. One species (Petaurus australis) had an extended negative response to urban boundaries, suggesting that urban development has impacts beyond 300 m into adjacent forest. Our empirical work demonstrates that high-density housing developments have negative effects on both community and species level responses, except for one urban adapter. We developed a new predictive model of edge effects based on our results and the literature. To predict animal responses across edges, our framework integrates for first time: (1) habitat quality/preference, (2) species response with the proximity to the adjacent habitat, and (3) spillover extent/sensitivity to adjacent habitat boundaries. This framework will allow scientists, managers and planners better understand and predict both species responses across edges and impacts of development in mosaic landscapes.
Project description:Urbanization transforms undeveloped landscapes into built environments, causing changes in communities and ecological processes. Flying arthropods play important roles in these processes as pollinators, decomposers, and predators, and can be important in structuring food webs. The goal of this study was to identify associations between urbanization and the composition of communities of flying (and floating) arthropods within gardens and parks in a medium-sized mesic city. We predicted that flying arthropod abundance and diversity would respond strongly to percent impervious surface and distance to city center, measurements of urbanization. Flying arthropods were sampled from 30 gardens and parks along an urbanization gradient in Toledo, Ohio, during July and August 2016, using elevated pan traps. A variety of potential predictor variables were also recorded at each site. We collected a total of 2,369 individuals representing nine orders. We found that flying arthropod community composition was associated with percent impervious surface and canopy cover. Overall flying arthropod abundance was negatively associated with percent impervious surface and positively associated with distance to city center. Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants), Lepidoptera (moths, butterflies), and Araneae (spiders) were positively associated with distance to city center. Hemiptera (true bugs), Diptera (flies), and Araneae were negatively associated with percent impervious surface. Both distance to city center and percent impervious surface are metrics of urbanization, and this study shows how these factors influence flying arthropod communities in urban gardens and city parks, including significant reductions in taxa that contain pollinators and predators important to urban agriculture and forestry. A variety of environmental factors also showed significant associations with responses (e.g. canopy cover and soil moisture), suggesting these factors may underlie or modulate the urbanization effects. More research is needed to determine mechanisms of change.