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The impact of impervious surface and neighborhood wealth on arthropod biodiversity and ecosystem services in community gardens

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As the number of humans living in cities has grown, interest in the value of community gardens to provide agricultural products has increased. However, neighborhoods with different land cover patterns and socioeconomic characteristics often differ in their ecological attributes, leading to potential differences in biodiversity-mediated ecosystem services (e.g., pollination and pest control). Here we ask, how do impervious surface and socioeconomic features of the urban matrix around community gardens impact arthropod biodiversity and pollination and pest control services? We collected arthropods (insects, arachnids, myriapods, and isopods) across community gardens in Boulder Co., CO, and used experimental jalapeño pepper plants as a sentinel crop to measure herbivory damage and pollination services. We categorized arthropods into functional guilds to see how impervious surface and neighborhood wealth in the urban matrix surrounding a site impacts the abundance of three focal groups – pollinators, herbivorous pests, and predators. We also looked at how bee Hill-Simpson diversity responded to these variables. Through structural equation modeling, we found that fruit size increased as bee biodiversity increased, and bee biodiversity and overall pollinator abundance were negatively related to neighborhood wealth. Additionally, pollinator abundance was lower in gardens surrounded by higher amounts of impervious surfaces. Neighborhood wealth and impervious surfaces were positively correlated with herbivore and predator abundances, but these abundances had no relationship with herbivory damage in our plants. This research shows that reducing the amounts of impervious surface in the urban matrix can help increase bee biodiversity and abundance and improve pollination services in urban community gardens.

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Open Research Statement

Code and data associated with this research are publicly available on Open Science Framework (OSF) at the following link.


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We would like to thank the members of the Resasco lab, the editor, and the reviewers for providing valuable feedback, which helped us improve the quality of the manuscript. We would also like to thank the undergraduate research assistants, Nathaniel Schooling, Victoria Alarcon Marcia, and Andrea Torres, for their significant assistance in this study’s fieldwork and data collection. Thank you to Virginia Scott and Adrian Carper of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History entomology collections for assisting with bee identification. And finally, thank you to the Growing Gardens Collective for their support and partnership with this research project.


This work was supported by The Explorers Fund award, and the University of Colorado Boulder awards through the Graduate School and Museum of Natural History, as well as startup funds.

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Both authors contributed to the study’s conception and design. Asia Kaiser completed material preparation. Asia Kaiser performed data collection and analysis with help from Julian Resasco. Asia Kaiser completed the first draft of this manuscript, and Julian Resasco commented and provided edits on all drafts of the manuscript. Both authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Asia Kaiser.

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Kaiser, A., Resasco, J. The impact of impervious surface and neighborhood wealth on arthropod biodiversity and ecosystem services in community gardens. Urban Ecosyst (2024).

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