The Role of Urban Environments for Saproxylic Insects
The value of urban environments to saproxylic insect conservation remains largely unstudied but is known to vary depending on the number and density of trees as well as their age, distribution, and species composition. Perhaps the most important factor influencing the distribution of saproxylics in urban areas is the degree of isolation among suitable habitats. Solitary trees form one of the primary urban habitats for beetles and other saproxylic insects, especially those that possess cavities and other characteristics common to veteran trees. Linear woody vegetation corridors, such as avenues or vegetation along riverbanks, also form important habitats. Small groups of trees, like those in city parks, can also provide valuable resources for urban saproxylics, as can small forested areas, like those that also exist in parks, zoos, or other green spaces. Of the utmost importance are larger urban forests, but much depends on the management intensity of these areas. Urban areas are defined by high human population densities, and this creates challenges for the long-term survival of saproxylic insects and complicates efforts to study and conserve these insects in public areas. Efforts to protect the oldest trees, such as pollarding which can make them less hazardous, as well as the protection or creation of downed woody debris, can make urban environments more friendly to a wide range of saproxylic insects, including some of the most threatened species.
Michael Ulyshen, Jessica Mou, and two referees helped improve the paper. Wendy Chen kindly provided figures from China.
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