P2-12: Scaling of biocontrol communities in urban gardens and agricultural landscapes

PhD student: Kristi Udy
Thesis Committee: Teja Tscharntke, Christoph Scherber, Thomas Kneib

Worldwide diversity of biocontrol insects is declining due to habitat loss. Biocontrol insects provide important ecosystem services through controlling insect pest species in modified landscapes. Semi-natural areas are well known to provide habitat for these insects, but the contribution of urban areas as habitat for these insect communities has been little studied. Urban areas are increasing in number and in size, thereby becoming more and more important as possible habitat for biocontrol insects. To understand how important green spaces are in urban areas for parasitoid insects I am using several different sampling methods to gain an overview of the whole community. The scale sampled at influences the results so I am sampling at multiple spatial scales and over time. To assess how insect communities change I will measure community structure as it is a well-known method for determining differences between insect communities in different habitats. Thus this project explores the effects of spatial scales (over a region) on insect community structure and accounts for temporal changes by sampling at different times during the flowering season.

The focus is on parasitoid insects as they provide important ecosystem services by controlling pest species and interact strongly with pollinating insects. For the first part of this project I will be working closely with Hannah Reininghaus. For the second part, I will conduct a meta-analysis focusing on the structure of urban insect communities. Through both field sampling and analysis of the literature I will be able to assess parasitoid community structure in urban green spaces, which will increase our knowledge of these novel systems and their importance as habitat for parasitoid species.

Project homepage: gaerten.uni-goettingen.de

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