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Influence of urbanisation and garden plants on the diversity and abundance of aphids and their ladybird and hoverfly predators

Rocha, E. A., Souza, E. N. F., Bleakley, L. A. D., Burley, C., Mott, J. L., Rue-Glutting, G. and Fellowes, M. D. E. ORCID: (2018) Influence of urbanisation and garden plants on the diversity and abundance of aphids and their ladybird and hoverfly predators. European Journal of Entomology, 115. pp. 140-149. ISSN 1210-5759

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To link to this item DOI: 10.14411/eje.2018.013


Urban gardens can harbour a high diversity of insects, which are critically important components of urban ecosystems. In this work, we investigate the richness and diversity of a major taxon of economic and ecological importance, the aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae), and their main insect predators, the hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and ladybirds (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), in urban gardens. We examined how variation in environmental factors associated with urbanisation (garden host plant abundance, garden plant richness, garden size, proportion of impervious surfaces in the surrounding area) directly and indirectly (via prey and predator abundance) influence the local diversity and abundance of aphids, ladybirds, and hoverflies. Sixty-seven domestic gardens located in southern England were surveyed during the peak period of aphid abundance, and the numbers and identity of aphids and their predators were recorded. We observed 45 aphid species (179917 individuals in total), 15 hoverfly species (494 individuals) and 8 ladybird species (173 individuals). We found that aphid species richness and abundance were positively associated with utilised host plant abundance and garden plant species richness. Hoverfly abundance was positively correlated with garden plant richness. The abundance of ladybirds was positively correlated with aphid abundance and garden plant species richness, and negatively associated to the proportion of impervious surfaces in the surrounding environment. The difference in responses between the two major taxa of aphid predators may reflect differences in their behaviour and natural history. Our results indicate that overall increases in urban land cover are not favourable for ladybirds as a group, and that fine scale habitat variables that are determined by garden owners have the potential to greatly affect the general diversity of aphids and their main predators.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:76395
Publisher:Institute of Entomology


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