Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Articles
Published: 2018-03-25

What can WE do for urban insect biodiversity? Applying lessons from ecological research

Applied Ecology Research Group, Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, UK
Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AQ, UK Estates and Facilities, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, UK
Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AQ, UK School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AQ, UK Insect Ecology Group, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ
Insecta

Abstract

Urban ecosystems are not unique, as the ecological processes and anthropological effects they encapsulate can equally be found in a range of human dominated environments. Applying ecological lessons from both within and outside urban areas is important for insect conservation within our expanding towns and cities. The management of urban grasslands, which in many cases is controlled by private individual and corporate landowners, has the potential to make a large difference to the biodiversity they support. Here we report on an investigation of invertebrate biodiversity within a series of small urban grasslands with contrasting frequency of management by mowing. Seven gardens and five other grassland areas were suction sampled for grassland invertebrates in July 2016. Samples were taken in patches that were regularly cut on a 7-14 day cycle (very short), those cut every six weeks (short) and those than had not been cut since the previous year (long). Invertebrates were mostly identified to order level, with the Hemiptera to species or morphospecies. Invertebrate abundance was significantly inversely related to mowing frequency but overall species richness did not differ between short and very short grasslands. Community structure also was most distinct in the long grasslands. The pattern of abundance varied between different taxonomic groups, with the Hemiptera particularly benefiting from very low levels of management. The value to invertebrates, especially Hemiptera, of reduced grassland management is discussed, with reference to how the owners of gardens and other urban grassy areas can make simple changes to benefit biodiversity on their land

References

  1. Anderson, A., Carnus, T., Helden, A.J., Sheridan, H. & Purvis, G. (2013) The Influence of Conservation Field Margins in Intensively Managed Grazing Land on Communities of Five Arthropod Trophic Groups. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 6, 201–211.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2012.00203.x

    Anderson, A., McCormack, S., Helden, A., Sheridan, H., Kinsella, A. & Purvis, G. (2011) The Potential of Parasitoid Hymenoptera as Bioindicators of Arthropod Diversity in Agricultural Grasslands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48 (2), 382–390.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01937.x

    Andrzejewska, L. (1965) Stratification and Its Dynamics in Meadow Communities of Auchenorrhyncha (Homoptera). Ekologia Polska - Seria A, 13, 685–715.

    Andrzejewska, L. (1979) Herbivorous Fauna and Its Role in the Economy of Grassland Ecosystems I. Herbivores in Natural and Managed Meadows. Polish Ecological Studies, 5, 5–44.

    Arnold, A.J. (1994) Insect Suction Sampling without Nets, Bags or Filters. Crop Protection, 13, 73–76.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/0261-2194(94)90139-2

    Bates, D., Mächler, M., Bolker, B. & Walker, S. (2015) Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67 (1).

    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01

    Benton, T.G. (2007) Ecology - Managing Farming’s Footprint on Biodiversity. Science, 315 (5810), 341–342.

    https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1137650

    Blake, R.J., Woodcock, B.A., Ramsay, A.J., Pilgrim, E.S., Brown, V.K., Tallowin, J.R. & Potts, S.G. (2011) Novel Margin Management to Enhance Auchenorrhyncha Biodiversity in Intensive Grasslands. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 140 (3–4), 506–513.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2011.02.003

    Davies, Z.G., Fuller, R.A., Loram, A., Irvine, K.N., Sims, V. & Gaston, K.J. (2009) A National Scale Inventory of Resource Provision for Biodiversity within Domestic Gardens. Biological Conservation, 142 (4), 761–771.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2008.12.016

    Davis, B.N.K. (1976) Wildlife, Urbanization and Industry. Biological Conservation, 10, 249–291.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-3207(76)90002-1

    Dearborn, D.C. & Kark, S. (2010) Motivations for Conserving Urban Biodiversity. Conservation Biology, 24 (2), 432–440.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01328.x

    Dennis, P., Young, M.R. & Gordon, I.J. (1998) Distribution and Abundance of Small Insects and Arachnids in Relation to Structural Heterogeneity of Grazed, Indigenous Grasslands. Ecological Entomology, 23, 253–64.

    https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2311.1998.00135.x

    Denno, R.F. (1977) Comparison of the Assemblages of Sap-Feeding Insects (Homoptera-Hemiptera) Inhabiting Two Structurally Different Salt Marsh Grasses in the Genus Spartina. Environmental Entomology, 6, 359–372.

    https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/6.3.359

    Dittrich, A.D.K. & Helden, A.J. (2012) Experimental Sward Islets: The Effect of Dung and Fertilisation on Hemiptera & Araneae. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 5, 46–56.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2011.00133.x

    Dunnett, N. (2011) Urban Meadows: An Ecological Discussion. Aspects of Applied Biology, 108, 11–17.

    Dunnett, N. & Qasim, M. (2000) Perceived Benefits to Human Well-Being of Urban Gardens. HortTechnology, 10: 40–45.

    Faeth, S.H. & Kane, T.C. (1978) Urban Biogeography. City Parks as Islands for Diptera and Coleoptera. Oecologia, 32, 127–33.

    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00344697

    Fenoglio, M.S., Videla, M., Salvo, A. & Valladares, G. (2013) Beneficial Insects in Urban Environments: Parasitism Rates Increase in Large and Less Isolated Plant Patches via Enhanced Parasitoid Species Richness. Biological Conservation, 164, 82–89.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.05.002

    Freeman, C., Dickinson, K.J.M., Porter, S. & van Heezik, Y. (2012) ‘My Garden Is an Expression of Me’: Exploring Householders’ Relationships with Their Gardens. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32 (2), 135–143.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2012.01.005

    Gaston, K.J., Fuller, R.A., Loram, A., MacDonald, C., Power, S. & Dempsey, N. (2007) Urban Domestic Gardens (XI): Variation in Urban Wildlife Gardening in the United Kingdom. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16 (11), 3227–3238.

    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-007-9174-6

    Goddard, M.A., Dougill, A.J. & Benton, T.G. (2013) Why Garden for Wildlife? Social and Ecological Drivers, Motivations and Barriers for Biodiversity Management in Residential Landscapes. Ecological Economics, 86 (February), 258–273.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.07.016

    Heezik, Y.M. van, Dickinson, K.J.M. & Freeman, C. (2012) Closing the Gap: Communicating to Change Gardening Practices in Support of Native Biodiversity in Urban Private Gardens. Ecology and Society, 17 (1).

    https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-04712-170134

    Helden, A.J., Anderson, A., Sheridan, H. & Purvis, G. (2010) The Role of Grassland Sward Islets in the Distribution of Arthropods in Cattle Pastures. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 3, 291–301.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2010.00106.x

    Helden, A.J. & Dittrich, A.D.K. (2016) Hemiptera Community and Species Responses to Grassland Sward Islets. Entomologica Austriaca, 23, 19–28.

    Helden, A.J. & Leather, S.R. (2004) Biodiversity on Urban Roundabouts - Hemiptera, Management and the Species-Area Relationship. Basic and Applied Ecology, 5 (4), 367–77.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2004.06.004

    Helden, A.J. & Leather, S.R. (2005) The Hemiptera of Bracknell as an Example of Biodiversity within an Urban Environment. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History, 18, 233–52.

    Helden, A.J., Mckenzie, R., Cobbold, G., Grice, P.V., Anderson, G.Q.A. & MacDonald, M.A. (2015) Field-Based Grassland Management for Cirl Buntings (Emberiza Cirlus L.) and Its Effect on Plant- and Leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha). Insect Conservation and Diversity, 8 (3), 272–281.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12106

    Helden, A.J., Stamp, G.C. & Leather, S.R. (2012) Urban Biodiversity: Comparison of Insect Assemblages on Native and Non-Native Trees. Urban Ecosystems, 15, 611–624.

    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-012-0231-x

    Hitchmough, J., Paraskevopoulou, A. & Dunnett, N. (2008) Influence of Grass Suppression and Sowing Rate on the Establishment and Persistence of Forb Dominated Urban Meadows. Urban Ecosystems, 11 (1), 33–44.

    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-007-0041-8

    Kormann, U., Rösch, R., Batáry, P., Tscharntke, T., Orci, K.M., Samu, F. & Scherber, C. (2015) Local and Landscape Management Drive Trait-Mediated Biodiversity of Nine Taxa on Small Grassland Fragments. Edited by Ingolf Kühn. Diversity and Distributions, 21 (10), 1204–1217.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12324

    Krebs, J.R., Wilson, J.D., Bradbury, R.B. & Siriwardena, G.M. (1999) The Second Silent Spring? Nature, 400, 611–612.

    https://doi.org/10.1038/23127

    MacIvor, J.S. & Lundholm, J. (2011) Insect Species Composition and Diversity on Intensive Green Roofs and Adjacent Level-Ground Habitats. Urban Ecosystems, 14 (2), 225–241.

    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-010-0149-0

    McIntyre, N.E. (2000) Ecology of Urban Arthropods: A Review and a Call to Action. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 93, 825–835.

    https://doi.org/10.1603/0013-8746(2000)093[0825:EOUAAR]2.0.CO;2

    Morris, M.G. (2000) The Effects of Structure and Its Dynamics on the Ecology and Conservation of Arthropods in British Grasslands. Biological Conservation, 95, 129–142.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00028-8

    New, T.R. (2015) Insect Conservation and Urban Environments. Springer International Publishing.

    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-21224-1

    Nickel, H. (2003) The Leafhoppers and Planthoppers of Germany (Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha): Patterns and Strategies in a Highly Diverse Group of Phytophagous Insects. Sofia-Moscow, Pensoft.

    Nickel, H. & Hildebrandt, J. (2003) Auchenorrhyncha Communities as Indicators of Disturbance in Grasslands (Insecta, Hemiptera)—a Case Study from the Elbe Flood Plains (Northern Germany). Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 98 (1–3), 183–99.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8809(03)00080-X

    Niemelä, J., Kotze, D.J., Venn, S., Penev, L., Stoyanov, I., Spence, J., Hartley, D. & Montes de Oca, E. (2002) Carabid Beetle Assemblages (Coleoptera, Carabidae) across Urban-Rural Gradients: An International Comparison. Landscape Ecology, 17, 387–401.

    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021270121630

    Oksanen, J., Blanchet, F.G., Friendly, M., Kindt, R., Legendre, P., McGlinn, D., Minchin, P.R., O’Hara, R.B., Simpon, G.L., Solymos, P., Stevens, M.H.H., Szoecs, E. & Wagner, H. (2016) Vegan: Community Ecology Package. R Package Version 2.4-0.

    Plantureux, S., Peeters, A. & McCracken, D.I. (2005) Biodiversity in Intensive Grasslands: Effect of Management, Improvement and Challenges. Agronomy Research, 3, 153–164.

    Prestidge, R.A. (1982) The Influence of Nitrogenous Fertilizer on the Grassland Auchenorrhyncha (Homoptera). Journal of Applied Ecology, 19, 735–749.

    https://doi.org/10.2307/2403278

    R Core Team (2016) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Available from: http://www.R-project.org/

    Ryall, C. & Hatherell, P. (2003) A Survey of Strategies Adopted by UK Wildlife Trusts in the Promotion of Gardening for Wildlife. The Environmentalist, 23, 81–87.

    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022995610486

    Savard, J-P.L., Clergeau, P. & Mennechez, G. (2000) Biodiversity Concepts and Urban Ecosystems. Landscape and Urban Planning, 48, 131–142.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0169-2046(00)00037-2

    Sheridan, H., Finn, J.A., Culleton, N. & O’Donovan, G. (2008) Plant and Invertebrate Diversity in Grassland Field Margins. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 123 (1–3), 225–232.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2007.07.001

    Waloff, N. & Solomon, M.G. (1973) Leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha: Homoptera) of Acidic Grassland. Journal of Applied Ecology, 10, 189–212.

    https://doi.org/10.2307/2404725

    Woodcock, B.A., Potts, S.G., Tscheulin, T., Pilgrim, E., Ramsey, A.J., Harrison-Cripps, J., Brown, V.K. & Tallowin, J.R. (2009) Responses of Invertebrate Trophic Level, Feeding Guild and Body Size to the Management of Improved Grassland Field Margins. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46 (4), 920–929.

    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01675.x