Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 371–384

Silphids in urban forests: Diversity and function

Article

Abstract

Many ecologists have examined the process of how urbanization reduces biological diversity but rarely have its ecological consequences been assessed. We studied forest-dwelling burying beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae)—a guild of insects that requires carrion to complete their life cycles—along an urban-rural gradient of land use in Maryland. Our objective was to determine how forest fragmentation associated with urbanization affects (1) beetle community diversity and structure and (2) the ecological function provided by these insects, that is, decomposition of vertebrate carcasses. Forest fragmentation strongly reduced burying beetle diversity and abundance, and did so far more pervasively than urbanization of the surrounding landscape. The likelihood that beetles interred experimental baits was a direct, positive function of burying beetle diversity. We conclude that loss of burying beetle diversity resulting from forest fragmentation could have important ecological consequences in urban forests.

Keywords

diversity ecological function forest fragmentation Silphidae urban forests 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA

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