Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2007 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

The Soil Biota of the Urban Landscape: Patterns in European and American Cities.
Szlavecz, Katalin
Co-Authors: E. Hornung, C. Csuzdi, Z. Korsos, F. Vilisics, R. Pouyat
Abstract: Urbanization is portrayed as one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss. Soils in cities are transported and heavily managed leading to altered soil community composition. Moreover, urban areas have been hotspots for exotic species introductions. We have collected soil fauna data in Baltimore, and several European cities. Analysis of these as well as published data revealed important patterns of urban soil biodiversity: 1/ biodiversity loss or as well as presence of non-native species is taxon dependent; 2/ species rich taxa respond to urbanization more strongly; 3/urban habitat islands may harbor a diverse fauna and should be protected; 5/ there is a considerable overlap in species composition among cities; and 4/some species exhibit extreme adaptations to novel urban habitats. Studies on altered urban soil communities enable us to address more fundamental ecological questions such as the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function, and the issue of species redundancy. Moreover, the altered environment in cities allows conducting "natural experiments" to study the effects of global change on the soil biota at all levels of biological organization.