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Age-dependent colonization of urban habitats: a diachronic approach using carabid beetles and spiders

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Urbanization creates human disturbance that plays an important role in ecosystem dynamics. Most of the time, there is a time lag between disturbance and colonization. Opportunistic species with high dispersal power colonize first, while habitat specialist species with a lower power of dispersal colonize later; the communities change with time after disturbance. We hypothesize that, following the establishment of a new neighbourhood, arthropod communities will change from habitat generalists to specialists, and will be more similar to those of the adjacent countryside. We selected two groups of invertebrates often used as bioindicators, spiders and carabid beetles. The following parameters were estimated: assemblage composition, species richness, activity-density total and per life history trait (broad habitat preference). The field data were collected in 2010 within 3 towns located in France. Neighbourhoods of 10 and 30 years old were pair-matched in these towns and sampled using pitfall traps set randomly in hedgerows (120 traps in total). 2101 adult spiders belonging to 89 species were collected, whereas the 643 captured carabid beetles belonged to 24 species. We found no evidence of any significant change in carabid beetle and spider communities according to neighbourhood age. The assemblages were mainly composed of habitat generalist species. These results suggest that urban areas can be seen to be in continual state of disruption, and colonization of these areas is assumed to be relatively rapid (i.e., less than 10 years in our case study), although incomplete.

Affiliations: 1: 2Rennes Métropole, Communauté d’agglomération rennaise, 4 Avenue Henri Fréville, CS 20723, 35207 Rennes Cedex, France; 2: 3Université d’Angers, UNAM, GECCO, 2 Boulevard Lavoisier, 49045 Angers, France


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