Urbanization affects the trophic structure of arboreal arthropod communities
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- Christie, F.J., Cassis, G. & Hochuli, D.F. Urban Ecosyst (2010) 13: 169. doi:10.1007/s11252-009-0115-x
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Urbanization is one of the most significant causes of habitat fragmentation on the planet, resulting in substantial losses of biodiversity and disruptions to ecological processes. We examined the effects of urbanization on the diversity and abundance of arboreal invertebrates in a dominant tree species (Angophora costata) in a highly urbanized landscape in Sydney, Australia, identifying the potential ecological consequences of shifts in diversity. We hypothesized that trophic structure would be influenced by landscape context with a greater richness and abundance of invertebrates in small remnants and edges. Canopy arthropods were sampled via beating from trees in 15 sites in three landscape contexts; five large patches of continuous vegetation, five edges of large patches and five small urban remnants. Trees in large patches supported fewer individuals compared to trees in small urban remnants and edge sites. The composition of assemblages and overall trophic structure also differed between edges and large patches, with a greater abundance of grazing insects in edges. No differences were detected between small urban remnants and edges, suggesting that observed differences might be attributed to an edge effect as opposed to an area effect per se. These changes in trophic structure, revealing a greater abundance of grazing herbivores and a reduced abundance of predators and parasitoids in edge sites, are consistent with work describing elevated levels of herbivory in edges of remnant vegetation. Future management of remnant urban vegetation and associated biodiversity requires not only an understanding of how trophic status influences the extent of responses by arboreal invertebrate communities, but also how these will affect ecosystem functioning.