Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Decreased losses of woody plant foliage to insects in large urban areas are explained by bird predation




List of Authors: Kozlov MV, Lanta V, Zverev V, Rainio K, Kunavin MA, Zvereva EL

Publisher: WILEY

Place: HOBOKEN

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Global Change Biology

Journal name in source: GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY

Journal acronym: GLOBAL CHANGE BIOL

Volume number: 23

Issue number: 10

Number of pages: 11

ISSN: 1354-1013

eISSN: 1365-2486

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13692

URL: 10.1111/gcb.13692


Abstract
Despite the increasing rate of urbanization, the consequences of this process on biotic interactions remain insufficiently studied. Our aims were to identify the general pattern of urbanization impact on background insect herbivory, to explore variations in this impact related to characteristics of both urban areas and insect-plant systems, and to uncover the factors governing urbanization impacts on insect herbivory. We compared the foliar damage inflicted on the most common trees by defoliating, leafmining and gall-forming insects in rural and urban habitats associated with 16 European cities. In two of these cities, we explored quality of birch foliage for herbivorous insects, mortality of leafmining insects due to predators and parasitoids and bird predation on artificial plasticine larvae. On average, the foliage losses to insects were 16.5% lower in urban than in rural habitats. The magnitude of the overall adverse effect of urbanization on herbivory was independent of the latitude of the locality and was similar in all 11 studied tree species, but increased with an increase in the size of the urban area: it was significant in large cities (city population 1-5 million) but not significant in medium-sized and small towns. Quality of birch foliage for herbivorous insects was slightly higher in urban habitats than in rural habitats. At the same time, leafminer mortality due to ants and birds and the bird attack intensity on dummy larvae were higher in large cities than in rural habitats, which at least partially explained the decline in insect herbivory observed in response to urbanization. Our findings underscore the importance of top-down forces in mediating impacts of urbanization on plant-feeding insects: factors favouring predators may override the positive effects of temperature elevation on insects and thus reduce plant damage.


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