Urban habitat transformation and fragmentation affect native lady beetle abundance

Research poster
Denisha Parker
Mary Gardiner
Department of Entomology

Landscape fragmentation associated with worldwide urbanization represents a major threat to native biodiversity. Despite these challenges, cities have been shown to support a high abundance and richness of arthropod species. Declining species, such as native lady beetles (Coccinellidae), may utilize urban greenspace for foraging habitats. To better understand how to implement conservation habitat for declining native lady beetle in urban areas, we need to understand how urbanization can affect their community structure. We sought to inform future urban conservation endeavors by identifying how landscape composition and configuration as well as the management of vacant lot greenspaces affect native lady beetle community structure within the shrinking city of Cleveland, Ohio USA. Cleveland, OH offer an opportunity to develop and test management plans to promote the conservation of urban biodiversity due to its extensive holdings of vacant land as a result of losing 50% of its residents. We established the Cleveland Pocket Prairie Project to examine how vacant land management regimes ranging from successional weedy habitats with reduced mowing frequency to “pocket prairies” consisting of native grasses and forbs, influenced insect communities. We found no effect of habitat treatment on native lady beetle abundance. Further, we found that vacant lots embedded within landscapes with increased impervious surface and a high degree of greenspace isolation contained fewer aphidophagous native and exotic lady beetles. Our findings suggest that landscape context is a critical consideration when aiming to utilize vacant land as conservation habitat for coccinellids.