Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 425–441 | Cite as

Diversity, abundance, and species composition of ants in urban green spaces



Urbanization threatens biodiversity, yet the number and scope of studies on urban arthropod biodiversity are relatively limited. We sampled ant communities in three urban habitats (forest remnants, community gardens, vacant lots) in Detroit and Toledo, USA, to compare species richness, abundance, and species composition. We measured 24 site characteristics to examine relationships between richness and composition and habitat patch size, vegetation, and urban features. Ant richness was higher in forests (26) than in gardens (14) and intermediate in vacant lots (20). Ant richness in gardens and vacant lots negatively correlated with abundance of an exotic ant species (Tetramorium caespitum); thus this ant may affect native ant richness in urban habitats. Ant composition differed with habitat type, and abundance was lowest in forests. Site characteristics varied with habitat type: forests were larger, had more woody plants, higher woody plant richness, more branches, and leaf litter whereas lots and gardens had more concrete and buildings. Vacant lots had taller herbaceous vegetation, and gardens had higher forb richness, density, and more bare ground. Differences in vegetation did not correlate with ant richness, but several vegetation factors (e.g. patch size, number and size of trees, leaf litter, and amount of concrete and buildings) correlated with differences in ant species composition. Additional factors relating to soil, nests, or microclimatic factors may also be important for urban ant communities. Implications for biodiversity conservation in urban ecosystems are discussed.


Biodiversity Community gardens Conservation Habitat characteristics Tetramorium caespitum Urban forests Urbanization Vacant lots 



This study was funded by a grant from the University Research Award and Fellowship Program of the University of Toledo and a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant and School of Natural Resources and Environment Opus Award from of the University of Michigan. We thank P. Bichier, R. Friedrich, A. Bobak and L. Baskerville for assisting with field and lab work, and B. Lin and I. Perfecto for providing thoughtful comments on earlier draft of the manuscript. In Toledo, M. Szuberla of ToledoGrows and the City of Toledo helped with site selection and access. In Detroit, we thank the following people for help with site selection: A. Atkinson and L. Turpin of Detroit Agriculture Network, J. Baustian of Acres of Hope Garden, L. Retherford and the friends of Birdtown Garden, M.P. Crouch of Earthworks Urban Farm, N. Conway and G. Willerer of Hope Takes Root Garden, S. Campbell formerly of Belle Isle, and G. Parish, Principal City Planner for the City of Detroit. K. Ivanov from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History assisted with ant identification.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shinsuke Uno
    • 1
    • 3
  • Julie Cotton
    • 1
    • 4
  • Stacy M. Philpott
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Humanity and Environment/ Ichigaya Liberal Art CenterHosei UniversityTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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