The role of urban forest patches in maintaining isopod diversity (Oniscidea).

Research paper by Elisabeth E Hornung, Andrea A Kásler, Zsolt Z Tóth

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: ZooKeys


Compositional changes in natural communities associated with anthropogenic influence often lead to localised extinctions and biodiversity loss. Soil invertebrates are also threatened by urbanisation due to habitat fragmentation, vegetation changes and management, soil alteration, degradation, and disappearing shelter sites. The aim was to assess terrestrial isopod (Oniscidea) assemblages in differently degraded urban forest patches of a metropolitan area (Budapest, Hungary). Study sites were compared by their species richness, composition and the relevant background factors (soil properties, dead wood, litter characteristics, and canopy closure). The degree of urban disturbance was expressed using an urbanisation index (UI) based on built-up density and vegetation cover. The isopods were identified to species level, and were qualified by their habitat preference and naturalness index (TINI). Average Rarity Index (ARI), derived from TINIs provided information on the degree of naturalness/disturbance of each habitat. Altogether 14 isopod species were collected from 23 sample sites. Urbanisation indirectly affected on the composition of isopod assemblages through the quantity of dead wood and soil plasticity. ARIs and UIs of sample sites were negatively correlated. Urban patches harboured habitat generalist, synanthropic and established introduced species with low naturalness value of assemblages. Areas with no or low anthropogenic disturbance maintained stable native, autochthonous assemblages that were characteristic of rural sites in the region. Transitional zones between rural and urban habitats usually maintained a mixed isopod fauna consisting of both urban and rural elements.