Biodiv Sci ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (3): 260-268.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.09206

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Impacts of urbanization process on insect diversity

Shuisong Ye1,2, Yan Fang1, Kai Li1,2,*()   

  1. 1 School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062
    2 Shanghai Key Laboratory for Ecology of Urbanization Process and Eco-Restoration, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062
  • Received:2012-10-31 Accepted:2013-04-26 Online:2013-05-20 Published:2013-06-05
  • Contact: Li Kai

Abstract:

Rapid worldwide urbanization during the last century has led to more than half the world’s population living in urban regions. Studies of how urbanization affects insect diversity have focused on the following: insect abundance, distribution, extinction, food habits and ecosystem services. Native insect populations have declined greatly in urban areas, where studies of their spatial distribution have revealed that abundance decreases along what is termed the rural-city center gradient (RCG), many native insects even extinct with urbanization process. Most specialist insect communities have declined in abundance due to urbanization, while some generalist species, such as aphids, cockroaches and termites, have increased slightly in abundance. It is also the case that herbivorous, parasitic, saprophagous and flower-visiting insects are much more negatively influenced by urbanization than predator insects. This has a significant effect on the ecosystem services of insects. The decline of many insects due to urbanization can be attributed to environmental pollution (including air pollution, water pollution, light pollution, and heat pollution), habitat fragmentation, road hardening, clustering of buildings, and occurrence of introduced invasive species. As urbanization continues, measures should be taken to protect insects in urban areas. This will entail improving basic scientific research on the problem, construction of suitable habitats, and informing the general public of the benefits of environmental protection.

Key words: urbanization, insect diversity, pollution, habitat modification, fragmentation, biological invasion