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Urban EcologyPatterns, Processes, and Applications$
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Jari Niemelä, Jürgen H. Breuste, Thomas Elmqvist, Glenn Guntenspergen, Philip James, and Nancy E. McIntyre

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563562

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.001.0001

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Effects of Urbanization on the Ecology and Evolution of Arthropods

Effects of Urbanization on the Ecology and Evolution of Arthropods

Chapter:
(p.159) Chapter 3.3 Effects of Urbanization on the Ecology and Evolution of Arthropods
Source:
Urban Ecology
Author(s):

Johan Kotze

Stephen Venn

Jari Niemelä

John Spence

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.003.0019

Urbanisation impacts arthropod communities negatively but also creates opportunities for some species. Given their vital role in ecosystem function, arthropods are important components of urban landscapes, particularly in providing ecosystem services, including human well-being. The cityscape consists of a collection of habitat patches, ranging from fragmented natural habitats to characteristically urban habitats, such as parks, ruderal habitats, domestic gardens, roadside greens, and built surfaces, all of which have their own arthropod communities. Edge effects, patch size, and habitat quality interact with arthropod life history and morphological traits to structure arthropod communities in these island habitats. Research on the responses of arthropod communities along urban–rural gradients shows a general trend of a loss of specialist and poorly dispersive species at the urban end of the gradient. This chapter recommends moving beyond such pattern-driven research, with a new focus on quantifying the concepts of disturbance and urbanisation to unravel the processes that generate species responses to urbanisation. Despite negative effects of urban development, these environments also select for life history, morphological and physiological changes, and ultimately for genetic differentiation in arthropod populations. However, there is still much to be learnt about how urbanisation structures the population genetics of arthropod populations. The task of conserving urban arthropod biodiversity is challenging, not least because many adults do not like bugs. However, through education and conservation projects in urban areas, such fears can be alleviated. Collaboration among landscape architects, urban ecologists, and entomologists can help to meet biodiversity objectives in urban areas and this will have ecological and social benefits.

Keywords:   urbanisation, arthropods, edge effects, urban–rural gradients, urban habitats, genetic differentiation, conservation, human well-being

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