PS 97-193 - Factors influencing arthropod diversity on green roofs

Friday, August 12, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Bracha Y. Schindler, Kadas Green Roof Ecology Center, Institute of Evolution and Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel, Alden B. Griffith, Environmental Studies, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA and Kristina N. Jones, Department of Biological Sciences and Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Green roofs (roofs that are planted with vegetation) have potential for providing substantial habitat to plants, birds, and arthropod species that are not supported by other urban habitats. Whereas the plants on a typical green roof are chosen and planted by people, the arthropods that colonize it can serve as an indicator of the ability of this novel habitat to support a diverse community of organisms. The goal of this observational study was to determine which physical characteristics of a roof or characteristics of its vegetation correlate with arthropod diversity on the roof. We intensively sampled the number of insect families on one roof with pitfall traps and also measured the soil arthropod species richness on six green roofs in the Boston, MA area.


We found that the number of arthropod species in soil, and arthropod families in pitfall traps, was positively correlated with living vegetation cover. The number of arthropod species was not significantly correlated with plant diversity, green roof size, distance from the ground, or distance to the nearest vegetated habitat from the roof. Our results suggest that vegetation cover may be more important than vegetation diversity for roof arthropod diversity, at least for the first few years after establishment. Additionally, we found that even green roofs that are small and isolated can support a community of arthropods that include important functional groups of the soil food web.

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