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Patterns of pollinator turnover and increasing diversity associated with urban habitats

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The role of urban expansion on bee diversity is poorly understood, but it may play an important role in restructuring pollinator diversity observed in rural regions at the urban perimeter. We studied bee communities in two habitats essential for pollinators (residential gardens and semi-natural areas) at 42 sites situated at the edge of greater Montreal, Canada. Bee species richness, abundance and functional diversity all increased with urbanization in both habitat types, but gardens and semi-natural areas supported distinct bee communities with unique responses to urbanization in terms of species turnover. Compared to semi-natural sites, residential gardens supported bees that foraged from a greater number but a lower proportion of available plant species. Bees did not discriminate between exotic and indigenous plant species in either gardens or semi-natural sites and were attracted to flowers in either habitat irrespective of their origins. Protecting semi-natural ruderal areas and providing residential garden habitats for pollinators are both effective means of promoting regional bee diversity in urbanizing regions.

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We gratefully acknowledge the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de Recherche Nature et Technologies Québec, and the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science for funding and support. AG is supported by the Canada Research Chair program and a Killam Fellowship. We thank Julien Massé-Jodoin and Sarah Saldahna for field assistance, John Ascher, Bryan Danforth and Jason Gibbs for their help with insect identification, and the residents of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Mont-Saint-Hilaire, as well as the Gault Nature Reserve, for allowing access to field sites.

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Correspondence to Kyle T. Martins.

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Martins, K.T., Gonzalez, A. & Lechowicz, M.J. Patterns of pollinator turnover and increasing diversity associated with urban habitats. Urban Ecosyst 20, 1359–1371 (2017).

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