Garden life : the influence of garden age and area on the biodiversity of ground active arthropods
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Urbanisation is a global issue, and rapidly gaining attention from researchers as a major cause of biodiversity loss. Gardens represent a considerable proportion of the urban landscape in the UK and have significant potential to promote urban biodiversity and reduce species loss providing they can be designed and managed appropriately. This research focused on gardens in St Andrews, Scotland, and investigated the influence of environmental variables such as age and area on arachnid and beetle biodiversity with the aim of identifying key predictors of arthropod species richness in urban environments. The key result of this research was that the age and area of individual gardens was not a strong predictor of ground active arthropod biodiversity. This suggests that more recently developed or smaller gardens can contribute to the overall urban region species richness pool as well as larger or more ancient gardens. The most important predictor of ground active arachnid and beetle species richness was the proportion of porous (or 'green') habitat surrounding each garden, and suggested that urban density and habitat connectivity at the regional scale are of key importance. In general, variables measured within gardens (e.g. the provision of microhabitats such as leaf litter, non-managed vegetation, etc.) did not exert any measurable effect on the biodiversity of arachnids or beetles. The findings of this research suggest that the regional availability of heterogeneous greenspace habitat is of high importance for promoting and maintaining urban arthropod biodiversity.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 29th May 2016
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations