Research Output
Community heterogeneity of aquatic macroinvertebrates in urban ponds at a multi-city scale
Urbanisation is a leading cause of biotic homogenisation in urban ecosystems. However, there has been little research examining the effect of urbanisation and biotic homogenisation on aquatic communities, and few studies have compared findings across different urban landscapes. We assessed the processes that structure aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity within five UK urban settlements and characterise the heterogeneity of pond macroinvertebrate communities within and among urban areas.
A total of 132 ponds were sampled for invertebrates to characterise biological communities of ponds across five UK cities. Variation among sites within cities, and variation among cities, was partitioned into components of beta diversity relating to turnover and nestedness.
We recorded 337 macroinvertebrate taxa, and species turnover almost entirely accounted for the high beta-diversity recorded within each urban area and when all ponds were considered. A total of 40% of all macroinvertebrates recorded were unique to a particular urban settlement. In contrast to the homogenisation of terrestrial and lotic communities in urban landscapes reported in the literature, ponds support highly heterogeneous communities within and among urban settlements.
The high species turnover (species replacement) recorded in this study demonstrates that urban pond biodiversity conservation would be most efficient at a landscape-scale, rather than at individual ponds. Pond conservation practices need to consider the spatial organization of ecological communities (landscape-scale) to ensure that the maximum possible biodiversity can be protected.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    17 January 2018

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  • Library of Congress:

    QH Natural history

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    577 Ecology

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded; EU LIFE


Hill, M. J., Biggs, J., Thornhill, I., Briers, R. A., Ledger, M., Gledhill, D. G., …Hassall, C. (2018). Community heterogeneity of aquatic macroinvertebrates in urban ponds at a multi-city scale. Landscape Ecology, 33(3), 389-405.



Beta-diversity, landscape-scale conservation, lentic habitat, species turnover, anthropogenic landscape

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