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Landscape and Local Habitat Correlates of Lady Beetle Abundance and Species Richness in Urban Agriculture


Landscape surroundings and local habitat management affect patterns of insect biodiversity. Knowing which landscape and local factors are more important for insect species diversity informs landscape and local scale land management, yet can be challenging to disentangle. We sought to identify 1) which landscape factors surrounding, and 2) which local habitat factors within urban community gardens influence patterns in lady beetle (Coccinellidae) abundance and species richness. We assessed lady beetle abundance and taxonomic diversity, garden habitat characteristics, and the surrounding landscape composition in 19 gardens over two consecutive years. We found that the amount of natural area surrounding gardens at 3 km was the strongest correlate of abundance and species richness. Specifically, gardens surrounded by less natural area (gardens embedded in more urban landscapes) had higher lady beetle abundance and richness. In gardens embedded in landscapes with more amounts of natural land, local habitat features such as ornamental abundance and crop diversity may become more important for maintaining lady beetle abundance and richness. Our results suggest that within more urban landscapes, lady beetles may aggregate and accumulate in relatively resource-rich habitats like gardens. Thus, urban landscape quality and local habitat management may all interact to shape lady beetle communities within gardens.

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