No overall effect of urbanization on nest-dwelling arthropods of great tits (Parus major).

Lisa F. Baardsen, Luc De Bruyn, Frank Adriaensen, Joris Elst, Diederik Strubbe, Dieter Heylen, Erik Matthysen

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

    Abstract

    Urbanization has been shown to strongly affect community composition of various taxa with potentially strong shifts in ecological interactions, including those between hosts and parasites. We investigated the effect of urbanization on the composition of arthropods in nests of great tits in Flanders, Belgium. These nests contain taxonomically and functionally diverse arthropod communities including parasites, predators, detritivores and accidental commensals. Using a standardized hierarchical sampling design with subplots (200 m x 200 m) nested in plots (3 km x 3 km) of varying urbanization levels, we collected arthropods from nests of resident great tits after the young had fledged. Arthropods were extracted, identified to Primary Taxonomical Groups (PTG) and counted. Using generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) we found diverging effects of urbanization on PTG occurrences and abundances at various levels, but we did not find an overall signal in arthropod diversity or richness. Also, visual inspection of non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) plots did not reveal any community differences between urbanization levels at plot or subplot scales. Land use and environmental variables at different distances around nestboxes did not contribute much to the variation between communities. Our results indicate that arthropod nestbox communities are generally not adversely affected by urbanization, and even city gardens and parks harbor comparable communities to forests and suburban areas. We thus found no evidence for a parasite release effect due to urbanization, nor an increased risk of parasitism in human-dominated environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalUrban Ecosystems
    Volume24
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)959-972
    Number of pages14
    ISSN1083-8155
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Keywords

    • Urbanization gradient
    • Arthropods
    • Nest parasites
    • Bird nest
    • Community composition
    • URBAN GRADIENT
    • LANDSCAPE DRIVERS
    • BREEDING SUCCESS
    • SPECIES RICHNESS
    • STURNUS-VULGARIS
    • PHILORNIS-DOWNSI
    • STORED PRODUCTS
    • PLANT DIVERSITY
    • BODY CONDITION
    • CLIMATE-CHANGE

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