Published October 9, 2023 | Version v1
Dataset Open

Insect biomass shows a stronger decrease than species richness along urban gradients

  • 1. Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2. Department of Ecosystem Services, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
  • 3. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig Germany
  • 4. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina


Anthropogenic land cover change is a major driver of biodiversity loss, with urbanisation and farmland practices responsible for some of the most drastic modifications of natural habitats. The relative importance of different land covers for shaping insect communities, however, is unclear. This study examines the effect of urban and farmland covers, along with land cover heterogeneity, at a landscape scale on species richness, evenness and biomass of flying insects using citizen science carnet sampling across Denmark. Increasing urban cover had a negative effect on insect richness but an even stronger negative effect on biomass. Increased land cover heterogeneity did not mitigate the negative effect of urban cover. Insect assemblages also became more even with increased urban cover. Farmland cover had no significant effect on insect richness, evenness or biomass. Based on our findings, the urban cover has a strong negative impact on insect communities, indicating that urbanisation could contribute to insect declines. Moreover, our findings indicate that insect loss occurs more through loss of biomass than loss of species, which may affect the ecosystem‐level consequences of urbanisation.



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