Epigeal invertebrates of Yorkshire allotments: the influence of urban-rural gradient and management style
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2012 Shona Turnbull. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
There is a growing interest in urban ecology but it can be a difficult environment for wildlife due to a range of anthropogenic pressures. Allotments could be used to study this issue but they have been rather neglected in terms of academic research, particularly in relation to their biodiversity value.
A questionnaire of plot-holders in east Yorkshire showed that whilst older men were still the principal plot-holders, there was reasonable interest from younger people. Respondents placed a high value on allotment wildlife, regardless of age or management style of their plots. Highly significant percentages were willing to allow sampling on their plot.
From the questionnaire data seven allotment sites were selected to represent an urban-rural gradient. The gradient was verified using a range of environmental factors suggested in part by the literature for gardens due to the similarities in habitat use.
Pitfall trapping for epigeal invertebrates on forty-two plots found a trend of increasing abundance from rural to urban plots, with beetles, woodlice and spiders constituting 79% of the catch. Diversity was highest on one suburban site, but lowest on another.
When the plots were split by either traditional or wildlife-friendly management style, woodlice and molluscs were more abundant on the wildlife-friendly plots, beetles more abundant on the traditional ones, whilst spiders, opilione and myriapods showed no significant difference.
Three allotment sites representing the urban-rural gradient were compared in relation to the individual spider, woodlice and beetle species present and management style. Whilst spider diversity did conform to the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, the beetles and woodlice did not. The majority of species found were generalists, thus conforming to the opportunistic species hypothesis. Most taxa could be categorised as either neutral or beneficial in terms of bio-control. Allotments offer great opportunities for further research regarding their biodiversity value.
- Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Hull
- Scott, Graham (Graham W.)
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