Biological Sciences Faculty Publications

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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.

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