, Volume 160, Issue 4, pp 839-846

Aphid biodiversity is positively correlated with human population in European countries

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Abstract

At large spatial scales, high numbers of people tend to be located in regions rich in biodiversity. This pattern has been reported for plants, some invertebrate groups, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, but little is known about whether aphids conform to it. Aphids originated from temperate regions of the boreal hemisphere and are thus exceptionally species-poor in the tropics. Here, we test whether aphid species richness is related to human population variation in European countries. The number of aphid species increases significantly with increasing human population size. This happens also when controlling for country area, latitude and plant species richness, which are not factors significantly affecting the response variable in the multivariate model. Given that the species–area and species–people relationships have a slope shallower than 1, small countries have a higher aphid species density relative to area and to people than large ones. There is no evidence that the species-people correlation for aphids in European countries arises because both variables are related to increasing temperature or precipitation. Potential mechanisms underlying the findings could thus be a sampling artefact or an influence of habitat heterogeneity. There is a need for an increase in research, public awareness and conservation of large-scale aphid biodiversity.

Communicated by Volkmar Wolters.