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Web Ecology An open-access peer-reviewed journal
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Volume 16, issue 1
Web Ecol., 16, 41-45, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-16-41-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Ecology at the Interface

Web Ecol., 16, 41-45, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-16-41-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Review article 09 Feb 2016

Review article | 09 Feb 2016

Insects and the city: what island biogeography tells us about insect conservation in urban areas

S. Fattorini1,2 S. Fattorini
  • 1CE3C – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes/Azorean Biodiversity Group and Universidade dos Açores, Departamento de Ciências Agrárias, 9700-042 Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal
  • 2Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio, Coppito, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy

Abstract. Habitat fragmentation caused by urbanization is considered a prominent threat to biodiversity. Urban development creates a mosaic of natural fragments which can be occupied by organisms able to survive in small spaces. These fragments are a set of habitat islands separated by less suitable non-native habitats. Because of their isolation, communities of urban green spaces can be investigated using hypotheses developed in island biogeography. The "equilibrium theory of island biogeography" (ETIB) allows the formulation of some predictions about how various characteristics of green spaces (such as their area, shape, level of isolation, environmental heterogeneity, age) should influence species richness. Many studies found support for ETIB predictions, but results varied considerably according to the species' sensitivity to patch size, matrix characteristics, and history of the city. In some cases ETIB predictions were falsified. These contrasting results warn against making generalizations on conservation strategies only based on ETIB models. On the other hand, the ETIB may represent a useful framework for urban conservation, especially for small animals like insects, if the roles of other factors, such as the surrounding landscape, the specific needs of the species under study, and the history of the urbanization process, are taken into account.

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Habitat fragmentation caused by urbanization is considered a prominent threat to biodiversity. Urban development creates a mosaic of natural fragments which can be occupied by organisms able to survive in small spaces. These fragments are a set of habitat islands interspersed in a "sea" of built up areas. Hypotheses developed in the field of island biogeography can be used to preserve the insect communities inhabiting urban green spaces.
Habitat fragmentation caused by urbanization is considered a prominent threat to biodiversity....
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