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Bee-friendly community gardens: Impact of environmental variables on the richness and abundance of exotic and native bees

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With their abundant floral resources, urban community gardens have the potential to play an important role in pollinator conservation. At the same time, the gardens themselves are dependent upon the pollination services provided by insects. Thus, understanding the variables that can increase bee richness or abundance in community gardens can contribute to both urban agriculture and pollinator conservation. Here we examine the impact of several environmental variables on bee abundance and diversity in urban community gardens in Sydney, Australia. We used hand netting and trap nests to sample bees in 27 community gardens ranging from inner city gardens with limited surrounding green space, to suburban gardens located next to national parks. We did not find strong support for an impact of any of our variables on bee species richness, abundance or diversity. We found high abundance of a recently introduced non-native bee: the African carder bee, Afranthidium repetitum (Schulz 1906). The abundance of African carder bees was negatively correlated with the amount of surrounding green space and positively correlated with native bee abundance/species richness. Our results highlight the seemingly rapid increase in African carder bee populations in inner city Sydney, and we call for more research into this bee’s potential environmental impacts. Our results also suggest that hard-to-change environmental factors such as garden size and distance to remnant forests may not have a strong influence on native bee diversity and abundance in highly urbanized area.

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We would like to thank Michael Batley from the Australian Museum for help identifying bees as well as providing ecological data. We also thank William Thompson, Sheridan Matthews and Alice Si for assistance in the field. The manuscript was greatly improved by comments from two anonymous referees. This project was funded by an Environmental Grant from the City of Sydney. We would like to thank Sophie Golding from the City of Sydney Council for help throughout the project. This work would not have been possible without the cooperation of our community gardeners who graciously allowed us to sample in their gardens.

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Correspondence to Tanya Latty.



Table 4 Community gardens used in our study
Table 5 Full set of candidate models examining the influence of variables on bee species richness
Table 6 Full set of candidate models examining the influence of variables on bee abundance
Table 7 Full set of candidate models examining the influence of variables on bee diversity (Shannon H index)

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Makinson, J.C., Threlfall, C.G. & Latty, T. Bee-friendly community gardens: Impact of environmental variables on the richness and abundance of exotic and native bees. Urban Ecosyst 20, 463–476 (2017).

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