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Challenging assumptions about burial ground biodiversity using flying beetles as indicators in urban areas

Cathcart-James, M., Foster, C. and Pickles, B. ORCID: (2022) Challenging assumptions about burial ground biodiversity using flying beetles as indicators in urban areas. Journal of Urban Ecology, 8 (1). juac024. ISSN 2058-5543

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/jue/juac024


Biodiversity is fundamental to the provision of ecosystem services that benefit urban communities, yet one type of green space is largely overlooked in ecological research and local governance: urban burial grounds. Their longevity, profound importance to society, and ubiquitous nature, provide unique opportunities for urban biodiversity. However, there has been little scientific exploration of their potentials. To quantify biodiversity in urban burial grounds, a low impact methodology for the capture of flying beetles was developed and deployed at 20 sites in southern England. To the authors’ knowledge this work represents the largest sampling of burial grounds in a single study. We used Generalized linear Mixed Models to examine the influence of weather, local demographic variables, urban landscape, and burial ground vegetation management on the abundance of flying beetles. We found significant variability in beetle assemblages over time and between burial grounds. Burial ground age was not significantly associated with flying beetle abundance, challenging long-standing assumptions about older burial grounds being more valuable for biodiversity. Increasing area of domestic gardens and hedgerows in the surrounding urban landscape was positively associated with beetle abundance, whereas the most significant negative association was with burial ground size. Additionally, management of burial grounds significantly influenced beetle abundance: more stringent regimes typically resulted in lower abundance, but sites with horticultural landscaping or biodiversity-focused regimes exhibited higher abundances.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:108232
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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