Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 2415–2438 | Cite as

Urban domestic gardens (VI): environmental correlates of invertebrate species richness

  • Richard M. SmithEmail author
  • Philip H. Warren
  • Ken Thompson
  • Kevin J. Gaston


Domestic gardens associated with residential zones form a major component of undeveloped land in towns and cities. Such gardens may play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity in urban areas, but explanations for the variation in the richness of species assemblages in gardens are lacking. We report the results from a case study of 12 invertebrate groups in 61 domestic gardens in the city of Sheffield, UK. The mean number of species within a taxon, recorded per garden, was no greater than 3, 10, and 20 species in litter, pitfall trap and Malaise trap samples, respectively. Relatively speciose groups exhibited high turnover between gardens, with typically 50% of the group occurring only once. In contrast, several species-poor taxa were virtually ubiquitous. Species richness was analysed by multiple regression and hierarchical tree analysis in relation to garden and landscape variables. In general, the two methods of analysis corroborated one another. In total, 22 explanatory variables entered into regression models, although 12 of them only did so once. The amount of variation in species richness explained in models was generally quite high, with the factors involved operating over a range of scales. However, the patterns that emerged were not consistent across taxa. The most important predictors of species richness, of relevance to land use planners, were components of garden vegetation, especially the abundance of trees. Likely reasons for inconsistencies in the relationships are discussed in the context of sampling and species biology.


Backyard Biodiversity Green space Home garden Scale tree analysis Urbanisation 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip H. Warren
    • 1
  • Ken Thompson
    • 1
  • Kevin J. Gaston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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